“The Ticket Is Finished”

October 7, 1876

Thomas Nast

“The Ticket Is Finished”

New York State, Government/Politics; State Elections; Tammany Hall, John Kelly;

Dorsheimer, William; Robinson, Lucius;

No 'Places' indexed for this cartoon.

No caption.

This cartoon parodies the reaction of Congressman Thomas Spriggs after the New York State Democratic Convention nominated Lucius Robinson for governor and William Dorsheimer for lieutenant governor.  Spriggs led the effort to entice Horatio Seymour, a former governor of New York (1853-1855, 1863-1865) and Democratic presidential nominee in 1868, to run once again for the governorship.  In this cartoon, Seymour's refusal, and the subsequent nomination of Robinson, has caused the state party's banner to slide toward Tammany Hall from the Manhattan Club, the exclusive gentlemen's club associated with the wealthier members of Irving Hall, the rival Democratic machine in New York City.  The parrot from Robinson Crusoe, the only talking companion of the title character for many years, laments the sheepish Democratic ticket, which is comprised of only a head (Robinson) and tail (Dorsheimer), but no body (else).  

Samuel J. Tilden, the sitting governor and Democratic presidential nominee in 1876, hoped his lieutenant governor, Dorsheimer, would succeed him as governor.  Tammany Hall wanted former congressman Clarkson Potter to get the nod, while Spriggs worked to return his fellow Utica townsman, Seymour, to the office.  In order to block the nomination of Potter, Tammany opponents joined forces at the August state convention in Saratoga to nominate Seymour by acclamation.  The former governor cabled his response, politely but firmly declining the nomination.  Believing he could convince Seymour to accept, Spriggs headed a delegation to Utica, suppressed the telegram, and told the convention to "Go ahead and complete your ticket."  The happy delegates renominated Dorsheimer for lieutenant governor, and then adjourned, as newspapers reported selection of the Seymour-Dorsheimer ticket.

On September 4, Seymour wrote the Democratic state chairman, Daniel Magone Jr., to decline the nomination because of ill health.  The letter was published the next day, and received generally kind remarks in the press. It put the New York Democrats in a bind, however.  Tilden called for delegates to reconvene in Saratoga on September 13, at which time they nominated Robinson for governor after an agreement was forged between Tammany Hall and Irving Hall.  

Lucius Robinson was a lawyer who had been elected to the New York State Legislature as a Republican in 1859.  In 1861, he was elected state comptroller, and reelected two years later.  He chaired the state constitutional convention in 1871-1872, but thereafter broke with the Republican Party, and was reelected state comptroller in 1875 as a Democrat.  In November 1876, about a month after this cartoon appeared, Robinson was elected governor of New York over his Republican rival, Edwin Morgan, by a margin of 51%-48%.  Robinson lost a bid for reelection three years later when Tammany boss John Kelly, who had broken with the governor over patronage, ran for governor on a Tammany slate, allowing the Republican candidate, Alonzo Cornell, to win the election.

Born in 1832, William Dorsheimer was raised in Buffalo, New York, and educated at Phillips Academy (Andover, Massachusetts) and Harvard.  He left Harvard before graduation to study law, but the institution later granted him an honorary degree.  In 1854, he passed the state bar and established a law practice in Buffalo.  During the Civil War, he served as a major in the U.S. Army and as aide-de-camp to General John C. Frémont.  Dorsheimer had been active in the Republican Party, campaigning for Frémont in 1856 and supporting the Lincoln administration (1861-1865).  

After the war, though, Dorsheimer sided with President Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, against the Radical Republicans, and the president rewarded him with an appointment as U.S. attorney for the northern district of New York (1867-1871).  In 1872, he was a delegate to the Liberal Republican Convention.  Two years later, he was elected lieutenant governor of New York as a Democrat, and reelected in 1876, when he also served as a manager in Tilden's presidential campaign.  In 1880, Dorsheimer moved to New York City, where he practiced law, and was elected to Congress in 1882.  The next year, he was appointed president of the Niagara Park Commission, and in 1884, he declined to seek reelection to Congress. In 1885, President Grover Cleveland appointed him U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, but he shortly resigned to edit the New York Star newspaper.  William Dorsheimer died in 1888.

Robert C. Kennedy

“The Ticket Is Finished”
November 28, 2023

Home | About | Contact || Access | Features 

Website design © 2001-2008 HarpWeek, LLC
All Content © 1998-2008 HarpWeek, LLC
Please submit questions to