Political Cartoon in the People's Advocate (“Suggested by Senator Benjamin R. Tillman's Speech in the Senate of the United States"), 19 March 1896

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Document Description:

Political cartoons, like the one shown above, provide an interesting and often humorous slant on major issues of the day.  As Governor of South Carolina from 1890-1894 and then U.S. Senator from 1894-1918, Ben Tillman presented himself as a populist reformer who identified with the common white farmer.  Tillman famously attacked Grover Cleveland in his speeches, calling him a “bag of beef” and threatening to stick him with a pitchfork.  The image of a pitchfork stuck with Tillman, who earned the moniker of “Pitchfork Ben.”  The cartoon shows a pitchfork and the words, “Abolition of Finance Monopoly, Transportation Monopoly, and Land Monopoly.”


“Suggested by Senator Tillman's Speech in the Senate of the United States.” People's Advocate, Columbiana, Alabama, March 19, 1896. See Rebecca Edwards and Sarah DeFeo, "1896: The Presidential Campaign. Cartoons & Commentary." Vassar College Website, accessed 4/3/06.

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard USHC 5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of major social, political, and economic developments that took place in the United States during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Indicator USHC-5.3 Explain the transformation of America from an agrarian to an industrial economy, including the effects of mechanized farming, the role of American farmers in facing economic problems, and the rise of the Populist movement.

Indicator USHC-5.7 Compare the accomplishments and limitations of the progressive movement in effecting social and political reforms in America, including the roles of Theodore Roosevelt, Jane Addams, W. E. B. DuBois, and Booker T. Washington.

Lessons Using this Document:

Ben Tillman and Political Reform in South Carolina - 11th Grade

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