"The Political 'Army of Salvation'"

On March 10th Commissioner George Railton Scott and seven women arrived in New York City from England to commence the Salvation Army's crusade in America. They quickly embarked on a campaign to redeem American souls by leading parades, singing hymns, and making similar public spectacles; Keppler used them as a background for this cartoon, appearing three weeks after their debut. The idea that both organizations, Stalwart Republicanism and the Salvation Army, exhibited a peculiar blend of military and religious zealotry is an insightful observation which serves to ridicule partisanship in all its incarnations.

The first element of the picture that should be noted is the artist's attention to the physical details. Besides the correct gender proportion, the dark costumes, derby hats, and the flag are all exact reproductions of the Army's original appearance [1]. This affords the opportunity for some cross-dressing humor, as George Robeson, John A. Logan, and others play the female Christian Soldiers; Roscoe Conkling is accurately shown to be the leader of the operation, and seemingly the loudest voice in the choir. Such a precise likeness of the Salvation Army strengthens the bond between it and the Stalwarts in a visual sense; by linking the two, the low opinion the public initially had of the Army will hopefully transfer to its political twin.

The depiction of Grant as the "Savior of His Country" is obviously intended as a satirical comparison to Jesus; however the General's elevation to this deific stature points to an important part of his public image. His service in the Federal Army placed him "in the cloudy Valhalla of myth" [2], where the people worshipped him with unrestrained sentiment. Since Lincoln was dead Grant became the focus of all the re-affirmations of Republican values, and so his disciples fetishized his image in order to further the campaign. This deliberate use of Grant as totem further emphasizes the spoilsmen's manipulation of him, bringing out the Stalwarts' devious nature. As confirmed by Conkling's hat, the evangelistic mission and GOP politics are represented by Keppler as shady pretenses for personal gain.