"To the Chicago Convention"

In addition to his role as the GOP figurehead, Grant's immense popular following characterized him as a seemingly inexorable force which would overcome any competition it encountered; his appearance as a locomotive in "To the Chicago Convention" is a reflection of this idea. The viewer can clearly see that the engine, the inanimate force that pulls the weight of the entire train, is personified as the General while the engineers and switchmen-- who control how fast and where the engine actually goes-- are played by the spoilsmen. The sheer brute strength of this Republican iron horse combined with the shrewd operations of Conkling and his cronies manages to pull a passenger car filled with politicos who hope to profit from four more years of Stalwart rule.

The cartoon also contains references to other Republican presidential hopefuls, but makes it clear that their chances of pulling ahead of Grant's train are slim at best. Senators John Sherman and James G. Blaine can be seen in the upper right corner whipping their horses on in a frantic attempt to win the race; however, the "Third Term Machine" is so efficient and powerful that it leaves the opposition behind. This is not merely a further comment on Grant's symbolic strength but also an implication that any attempt to gain office not propelled by a robust and well-oiled political organization had no chance of victory in the contemporary society.

While the train to Chicago is technically superior to its horse-drawn rivals, it is also a reckless and unthinking force that bowls over everything in its path. Keppler demonstrates this idea by depicting a victim of this brutish passage, a Lady Columbia-ish woman labelled "Republican Party". With the addition of this casualty the cartoon focuses on the idea that the Stalwarts' selfish lust for power has caused fatal damage to the party. This fragmentation is evident through the representation of three major factions of current or past Republicans: the Stalwart train, Blaine's "Half-Breed" buggy, and apostate liberals Carl Schurz and George W. Curtis who stand mourning over the victim. This interpretation of the cartoon as a death-knell for the GOP is not a perfect prophecy, but it is true that the rift between the supporters of Grant and Blaine did much to usher in the nomination of dark horse James A. Garfield.