Fig. 4. This cartoon satirizes the 1838 New York City mayoral election. The artist Clay again favors the Whig candidate, and particularly mocks the radical Democrat, or “Loco-Foco” (named after the recently invented quick-lighting match) candidate, whose weak horsemanship cannot match (and is intertwined with) his fiery radicalism. In desperation, he asks for the “ghost of Sam Purdy,” the famous jockey who subsequently won election as a New York City ward alderman. Notice, too, the gambling and racial slurs among the white men in the background. “The Three Mares (Mayors), New York Course, Spring Races, 1838.” Engraved by Edward Williams Clay (signed “Shanks” short for pseudonym “Sheepshanks,” a name used by Clay), published by H. R. Robinson, New York, 1838. Courtesy of the Political Cartoon Collection, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Click on image to enlarge in new window.


Welcome to Commonplace, a destination for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. A bit less formal than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Commonplace speaks—and listens—to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900. It is for all sorts of people to read about all sorts of things relating to early American life—from architecture to literature, from politics to parlor manners. It’s a place to find insightful analysis of early American history as it is discussed in scholarly literature, as it manifests on the evening news, as it is curated in museums, big and small; as it is performed in documentary and dramatic films and as it shows up in everyday life.

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How to cite Commonplace articles:

Author, “Title of Article,” Commonplace: the journal of early American life, date accessed, URL.

Sophie White, “Trading Looks Race, Religion and Dress in French America,” Commonplace: the journal of early American life, accessed September 30, 2019, https://commonplace.online/article/trading-looks-race-religion-dress-french-america/


Joshua R. Greenberg, editor


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