"The Modern Wandering Jew"

A literary character based on Scripture illuminates another aspect of Grant's relationship to his Stalwart managers. The cartoon compares his world tour to the legend of Ahasuerus, who fell under a curse because he repudiated Jesus on the road to Calvary. Both Grant and the Wandering Jew had to adopt nomadic existences as penance for past wrongdoing: one had to leave the country so its citizens would forget about his political foibles, while the other was forced to walk the earth until Judgement Day. In this manner the General's extended leave of absence appears to be a punishment enforced by an omnipotent being; the forces that command him are represented by the faces of Conkling and other spoilsmen in the clouds overhead.

Once again Keppler exposes Grant as a puppet in the hands of individuals far more devious than himself; he is a tool who must drop out of sight for awhile so that his masters can get more mileage out of him at a future date. This characterization actually reflects a measure of sympathy, as the implication is that he has no control over his destiny. In fact, the harried expression on Grant's face as he glances at the thunderheads looming over his shoulder may even indicate fear of the men who use him as a means to their own selfish ends.

The foreground of the image contains a number of gravestones, which bear the names of great presidents and attest to their only having served for two terms. These morbid reminders are invocations of men who (with the possible exception of Andrew Jackson) the Best Men would look to as the paragons of statesmanship. Their juxtaposition with the man who to them personified political ineptitude expresses the Mugwump ideal of a meritocracy in terms familiar to the general public.

Drawing from such well-known sources as American national religion and Christian narrative, "The Modern Wandering Jew" places current events in a perspective that emphasizes the need to keep General Grant out of office. A bit of verse which accompanied the cartoon summarizes many of these statements:

A fated wanderer, his way he wends,
Driven here and there by many selfish friends,
Where'er he goes, sign of a people's wrath,
The Curse of the Third Term still haunts his path.