Balladeer’s Blog takes another look at a political cartoon from Puck magazine (1871-1918), the famous humor magazine. For more Puck click HERE
This time around it’s the cover illustration from June 9th, 1897. The cartoon depicts a furious Father Knickerbocker breaking chains labeled “Raines Law” and “Hayseed Legislation” while the caption reads “Let Boss Platt beware: Father Knickerbocker is in training for this Sandow Act.”
Father Knickerbocker, then as now, was the symbol of New York. The figure was based on Washington Irving’s Diedrich Knickerbocker, the pseudonym under which he wrote his History of New York in 1809. That history was told from the alleged perspective of the old-line Dutch families who had settled New York before it was taken by the British.
There had actually been a Knickerbocker family in New York since the 1600s and the name appealed to Irving as being quintessentially Dutch-American.
Boss Platt was Thomas C Platt, successor to the corrupt Roscoe Conkling as the head of New York’s Republican Party Machine. (Tammany Hall, synonymous with political corruption, was still the name used for the state’s Democrat Party Machine)
Joseph Keppler at Puck magazine disdained Platt and the New York machine as much as he disdained Tammany Hall. The Raines Law chain being broken by Father Knickerbocker symbolized the Blue Law banning the sale of alcohol in New York on Sundays. Keppler held Boss Platt responsible for Raines Law and other parochial legislation known as Hayseed Legislation, the other chain being broken by Father Knickerbocker. Continue reading