The Winter Cartographer

The cartography, writing, and ramblings of one crazy winter lover who likes to blog about the fun and inconsequential.

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Note: the write-up below is an editorial reflecting the views of the artist

The 1892 Presidential Election is perhaps best remembered for Grover Cleveland's comeback to the Presidency, but it was far more than that to the people of the time. Against a flawed incumbent President Benjamin Harrison, several major movements gained a boost in popularity in this election. In particular, this election would mark the peak of the People's Party at the Presidential level.

The People's Party was a largely agrarian and rural party formed by groups such as the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, Farmers' Alliances, and the Knights of Labor. Also known as the Populist Party, the People's Party supported stances such as bimetallism (tying American currency to both gold and silver rather than just gold), collective bargaining, federal regulation of railroad rates, a graduated income tax, direct election of Senators, and more.

The Populists were most popular in the agrarian West, but also had a measure of popularity in the South by running "fusion" tickets in place of Republicans, to try and break the absolute hold the Democratic Party had on the south since the end of Reconstruction. Both movements within the party would be successful, though later become polarized against each other and help lead to the party's downfall. The party would cast its lot in by endorsing William Jennings Bryan in 1896 and 1900, which proved unsuccessful in getting a People's Party candidate elected to the Presidency. However, many of the platform issues the People's Party endorsed would later be passed.

Back to 1892, the People's Party performed very well among the restless Gilded Age electorate, but failed to garner support in the Midwest despite the support of labor organizers like Eugene Debs. This has been chalked up due to the divides in priorities from Midwestern and Northeast labor, largely urban, and the more rural and agrarian labor that was the People's Party bread and butter in the Great Plains and West. In particular was the issue on tariffs that could hurt farmers and help urban laborers.

The tariff was a particularly big campaign issue, dating back to the 1890 McKinley Tariff. Cleveland called for lowering it while Harrison, obviously, supported it. The tariff was steep and it divided states and laborers, as said, in the west and the east between those who desperately wanted it lowered and those who wanted to keep it. Not to be outdone on just economic issues, though, civil rights was part of the campaign as well. Though the fight is often papered over now, Harrison supported a bill called the Lodge Force Bill, which would have allowed federal circuit courts to appoint election supervisors if a relatively small number of locals petitioned for it. This would have helped the black voting population in the South, but it stalled in congress and Cleveland became President so it didn't happen. And, well, that really sucks. There's not really a way to sugarcoat that.

In the end, Cleveland won, was unable to handle popular pressures bubbling beneath the grimy surface of the Gilded Age (Pullman Strikers Forever), and then the economy collapsed and only one Democrat would be President from 1896 all the way until 1932. He left office massively unpopular and alienated most of his party. One thinks Cleveland would have been better off stopping at one term, perhaps. As said, the People's Party would endorse progressive reformer William Jennings Bryan in 1892 and 1896 before fading away but getting their platform largely passed in a victory of sorts. The Prohibition Party, who got a respectable number of votes in 1892 as well, would see their own victory with the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, though that wouldn't go over so well and be repealed in 1933. The end.


Jeffrey B. Lewis, Brandon DeVine, Lincoln Pitcher, and Kenneth C. Martis. (2013) Digital Boundary Definitions of United States Congressional Districts, 1789-2012. Retrieved from on 2 September, 2018.

Haynes, Stan M, and Stan M Haynes. “Preface.” President-Making in the Gilded Age: The Nominating Conventions of 1876-1900, McFarland & Company, Inc., 2016, pp. 2–2.

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Hello, all! Here is my latest map. I can’t say the entire background, as it is for a larger story I want to tell in the form of a timeline posted on my Patreon and here as well called Spurious Transmissions: Tales From Another World. But for now, I will give the backstory.

Essentially, a slightly less turbulent early administration of Ulysses S. Grant but problems later in his second term cause Grant early on to not consider running in 1876. A number of men jump in for the Republican nomination, but eventually it is Benjamin Bristow who emerges victorious. He runs on an administration-critical ticket of economic populism and support of Reconstruction that gives him an edge that Hayes never had, and he wins 1876 handily with promises of a new, fresh start on the economy. He also is willing to apply pressure on the states not finished Reconstructing, namely South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. He is unwilling to let the states fall and indeed in 1876 through 1877 all three states see Republicans re-elected and federal troops stepping in against violence.

Bristow’s willingness to use the powers at his will to enforce Reconstruction and Republicans recapturing the House so as to control all houses of federal government causes a shift in the south. Slowly at first but growing over time, “Redeemer” whites leave the three states for other southern states in which the local rule is more friendly, if not as harsh as our own world due to federal intervention. Similarly, northern whites living in the south and freedmen move in increasing numbers to these three states, effectively transferring populations over time. For a time, this keeps the peace and Bristow goes on to win a second term as economic difficulties subside by 1880.

There is lots more to this world and events that come after to make it different from our own, but that is where it starts, and hopefully it will be a world y’all will enjoy reading about. I also hope all y’all enjoy the map and feel free to ask questions about it!

More pixel art, this time with some fanart of the manga/anime Soul Eater to boot! First time doing character art so had some fun. Includes the small version and larger.

Well, I've wanted to do pixel art for, like, 6 months now so I finally sat down and forced myself to do it. And here is about 7 hours of practice and looking up some other peoples' tips to try to break out of my own styles a bit to try out some new stuff. Think it came out okay, and hope y'all like. Also, I included the early line art of it from this morning for fun. Enjoy!

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"My friends, to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years late. To those who say that this civil-rights program is an infringement on states’ rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states' rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights. People -- human beings -- this is the issue of the 20th century. People of all kinds -- all sorts of people -- and these people are looking to America for leadership, and they’re looking to America for precept and example." - Hubert Humphrey, July 14, 1948

The Heartland. Over a million square miles of rolling hills, windswept plains, and sleepy suburban towns snaking their way to glowing urban centers. Mythologized in American culture: from Fly-Over Country to Middle America, the qualities projected on the vast land between the oceans reflect as much on those doing the projecting as the land itself. And once, there was a man who made that land believe in him and won another four years in the White House off of them.

How does one describe Harry S. Truman? He, like yours truly, made his way in this world without a college degree. He worked odd jobs and slept in hobo camps before later becoming an artillery officer in the First World War, a judge, and from that a Senator from Missouri. He had only met FDR twice before Roosevelt died in office and he was tasked with helping end the largest war in human history. A man whose only war experience was as an artillery lieutenant and with no formal education had to choose whether to use atomic weapons on two cities in Japan. I don't know if he made the right decision. I don't know. I wasn't there, I don't know everything, and I don't imagine he did either. He may have been, in fact, the closest a normal person's got to the Presidency in recent history, and did so right as the Cold War kicked off. The most normal President in modern history given choices about spying on American citizens, the blockade of Berlin, and how to make a policy around the use of nuclear weapons. Hell.

Then came the 1948 Presidential Election. Thomas Dewey, who had run against Franklin Roosevelt in 1944 and given him a run for his money even for a popular President in wartime, was the Republican nominee and polls looked grim for Truman. Republicans had taken back Congress in 1946 for the first time since the Great Depression started, and Republicans in Congress were giving Harry a hard time. Truman's approval rating hit 36 percent and he got the nomination only because General Eisenhower refused to take it, and then came the Democratic National Convention.

There, a tepid pro-civil rights plank became a more fiery acceptance of civil rights thanks to then-Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey, whose headlining speech adorns this page. Truman backed the rhetoric and attacked Republicans on cutting services, welfare, unions, and for being a "Do Nothing Congress". Cheers erupted at the convention hall for the most part, while southern delegates from Mississippi and Alabama walked out in protest. Not long after, coupled with Truman integrating the armed forces and the federal agencies, South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond announced he'd run a campaign to the right of President Truman in the Democratic Party, calling it a campaign for States' Rights, while of course focusing mostly on the right of states to refuse civil rights reforms and keep their precious segregation and bigotry. Not to be outdone, former Vice President Henry Wallace re-formed the Progressive Party to run to Truman's left on social and labor issues. Truman's poor handling of the mass strikes of 1946 in particular was a prime example of where Wallace wanted to hit him, traveling around the country preaching a more radical vision of politics.

So that's when Harry started the famous tour that likely helped save his Presidency. He took a train around the country, several thousand miles, and began holding campaign stops in every little town in the country. Most of these folks had never seen the President before; just heard him on the radio or read about him in the newspaper. Truman understood that. He understood that being able to face these people in person and deliver his message right to them from the back of a train car, he could win them over; maybe not all of them, but enough to matter. He talked to farmers, miners, laborers, and all the everyday people from coast to coast. 

Dewey was no slouch either, traveling around the country himself to make big speeches, but where Truman's crowds got more enthusiastic with cries of "Give 'em hell, Harry!", Dewey's got weaker. No matter the polls or the pundits, the outcome could be felt in the air. A good politician knows it, too. The way the country moves and people feel, the way the faces will look back at you and voices lift you up. You all know the famous newspaper declaring Dewey the preemptive winner, but it's hard not to believe that those truly connected to the campaigns didn't have an inkling of what was to come beforehand.

In the end, Harry Truman united a strange coalition Democrats have not seen since. While Republicans under Dewey returned to their strengths in the Northeast, winning New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and so forth, Harry Truman swept much of America's Heartland, from Appalachia to the Mountain West. He is one of only two Democratic Presidents to ever win without both Pennsylvania and New York, and the only one to do it without the entire south backing him, as four states cast their votes for Strom Thurmond instead. To boot, Congress swung back for Democrats as well on Truman's coattails as 75 seats in the House of Representatives flipped in favor of his party and sent many new Republicans packing. It was a greater victory than the party could have hoped for, and set the one on coalitions and civil rights for the next half-century to come.

Harry S. Truman wasn't a perfect man. I'm sure there are those reading this who don't believe he was a good man, to put it mildly. This essay is not a judgement of his moral character, but rather a simple recounting of an election unique in the 20th century, about a surprisingly ordinary man in an extraordinary office who managed to win it in a very unusual way. A Kansas City lawyer took an era and Presidency turned against him and won Flyover Country, Middle America, and Small Town USA in a way that a Democrat has not been done since, and I think that's worth a mention.

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"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." -Barry M. Goldwater, July 17, 1964.

The trio of Presidential elections in the 1920s are best remembered for how uneventfully overwhelming the victories were for the Republican Party, as the oft-glamorized Roaring Twenties handed Republicans three straight victories in 1920, 1924, and 1928. It's too easy to lose these three elections in the flappers, jazz, and runaway markets of the era as names like Harding, Coolidge, Davis, Cox, and so forth become trivia points (how many before today that Franklin D. Roosevelt ran as James M. Cox's running mate for Vice President in 1920, 12 years before he successfully ran for President?). 1924 is, by extension, the height of electoral anonymity, featuring a President best known for saying as few words as possible and two other candidates largely passed into history except for those of us, such as yours truly, with a vested interest in the subject.

But every election as big as President matters to the people at the time, and their effects ring out long after the candidates and figures have been forgotten.

In 1924, Calvin Coolidge and the Republican Party had returned to a height of power lost during the Wilsonian years but gained following the end of the First World War and the small recession resulting from it. The economy was improving rapidly, the average American's lifestyle was climbing higher, and the Democratic Party was on the retreat. Even after the Teapot Dome scandal under President Harding, the Republicans had recovered in part due to the President's death and thus the assumption of the Presidency by Coolidge. But within, the party and the country itself broiled with conflict.

Race riots, bombings, and lynchings were still common in the 1920s as the Ku Klux Klan rose to prominence under new the new leadership of William J. Simmons following the 1915 release of Birth of a Nation (helpfully screened in the White House by President Woodrow Wilson, the fucker), and by 1924 reached a membership peak of 1.5 to 4 million members, between 4 and 15% of the eligible population. Besides being anti-black in their bigotry, the Klan focused on anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, anti-Communist, and anti-immigrant campaigns as well as those who pushed against Prohibition and for the sexual openness that the Roaring Twenties are known for today. In 1921, not long before this election, a mass anti-black mob stormed "black wall street" in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and burned it down to the point of using airplanes to drop bombs on the district below. Recorded deaths were 36 with 183 serious injuries, but exact figures are unknown.

Former liberal Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge reacted with weakness. He let his secretary remove black Republican leaders in the south appointed by the President, for they were not able to be elected due to the corruption of the southern states, in the hopes of winning over white southern voters, and his platform did not condemn the Ku Klux Klan despite calls from his party to do so. While Coolidge had spoken positively on equal rights for black Americans and signed the right of citizenship for Native Americans on reservations that year, his actual policy fell far short at a time when it was most needed and the country was sharply divided.

The Democrats did no better. John W. Davis, while at least condemning the KKK on the campaign trail in 1924 (more than Coolidge did, notably), was a Democrat in favor of poll taxes and against federal lynching laws in his time as a representative from West Virginia, and would even attempt to defend separate but equal school policy as a lawyer well into the 1950s. The Democrats who had won great swaths of the north and even notable black political thinkers and leaders in 1912 had been chased back to the south.

And, thus, cowardice. The KKK was at its height, the Democrats could not agree to even lightly condemn them besides Davis himself—who policy-wise didn't act as a friend to those the Klan targeted—and Coolidge took the opportunity to stand for nothing and put out no risk for any reward. And why not, int he end? He won in a landslide, and very likely would have anyway. Northerners were not swayed by Davis' lightening of his campaign rhetoric and for all of Coolidge's conservatism on the subject, much of the south swung back to Democrats from 1920. Frustration over the Republicans and Democrats on their conservatism and refusal to adopt more party-wide platforms helped fuel the candidacy of Robert M. La  Follette, Sr., and discontent swelled within the ranks of each party.

And we come back again to the future. What we do in the moment ripples outwards and effects far from where we see. Perhaps Coolidge taking a harder stance on race and other civil rights of the day wouldn't have done much or even lost him the election, but we do know what happened when he didn't. In 1932, after 4 years under Republican President Herbert Hoover, the country turned massively to the Democrats under Franklin D. Roosevelt and his economic system to get them out of the Great Depression. But more than that, black Americans began voting for Democrats in larger numbers than seen before, as economic interest can, at times, come first.

This, in turn, helped lead to the 1948 Democratic National Convention in which Hubert H. Humphrey, then Mayor of Minneapolis and later Senator-turned-Presidential candidate, urged the Democratic Party to "get out of the shadow of states' rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights." Sixteen years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law and, a year later, signed the Voting Rights Act even as southern Democrats left the party in protest or voted against the party.

If the Republican Party, at the height of its power in the Roaring Twenties and in a deeply divided country in which to be in the north was to be Republican and to be in the south was to be Democrat, had taken a harder stance on civil rights and economic interests for black Americans, perhaps the sides would be flipped today. We won't ever know, but 1924 can't help but live on as missed opportunities, as more progressive party platforms missed by single votes.

What of, then, Robert La Follette and his Progressive Party? Was it all a waste? For that, I don't think I could say yes. While he managed to win only one state, La Follette's Presidential candidacy exposed a sore in the side of both the Republican and Democratic Parties with progressive voters who desired change and new movements beyond the conservative party platforms and leaders who continued to move the big two down the road towards the Great Depression. La Follette's candidacy brought about a great alliance of socialists, union members, farmers, urban laborers, and all other sorts of progressives and those who wanted change on a ticket with former Democratic Senator Burton K. Wheeler that helped drive home the bipartisanship of his candidacy. These alliances would prove harder to break than the party itself, and persist even after the death of Robert La Follette Sr., in 1925.

The Progressive Party of Wisconsin would continue to be a dominant force in Wisconsin throughout the 1920s, 30s, and 40s until eventually fading back into the Republican Party there. Burton K. Wheeler, like Robert La Follette, Jr. and California Progressive politician Hiram Johnson. And to this day, the Secretary of State of Wisconsin, since 1982, is Douglas J. La Follette, a descendant of Robert. The alliances that La Follette's run were built on, often between farmers and labor unions, continued in state parties such as the Nonpartisan League in North Dakota and the Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota. The North Dakota Mill and Elevator and the Bank of North Dakota founded by the Nonpartisan League continue to operate today, and the Nonpartisan League was joined with North Dakota's Democratic Party to form the North Dakota Democratic–Nonpartisan League Party, which operates to this day. In Minnesota, the Farmer-Labor Party had a larger hand in state politics for decades before joining the Democratic party in the 1940s to form the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, which similarly still operates, with control of the state house, both Senate seats, the Governorship, and all other executive office at the time of this writing in April 2019.

1924 was a boring Presidential election to look back at and read about in a vacuum, but the effects it had stay with us today, and the choices made then could have easily changed the world we have now. We cannot afford to forget what choices were not made and paths not taken as much as those that were which arrived us at the world we have now if we are to make better ones and arrive at a brighter future.

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"Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet — there is where the bullet went through — and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best." -Theodore Roosevelt, October 14, 1912.

The 1912 Presidential Election is what happens when a titanic clash of ego and political power clash all together in a tumultuous time and have enough effects to still be felt 106 years and some change later. It is unfathomable how many lives would be changed today had the war hawk Roosevelt been elected over the isolationist Wilson (except when it came to Latin America, of course, with the authorization of interventions in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama, Honduras, and Nicaragua) when the First World War broke out in Europe two years later in 1914. American finance without Wilson's Federal Reserve would likely look very different today, and the Supreme Court appointments that affected Franklin Roosevelt in his time may have been changed as well, and with it the entire structure of the New Deal.

What's more than that, however, is the whimsy often surrounding the 1912 Presidential election and how it is taught, if ever mentioned. If the average person is familiar with it, it's likely through Roosevelt's famous Bull Moose quote above, and his reputation that came from it. Roosevelt was a character, an All-American of the highest order who became something of an internet meme a decade or so ago for his legendary badassness. It is far too easy to ignore Roosevelt's bullying Colombia out of Panama in order to get the Panama Canal for the United States (and when several US newspapers later accused Roosevelt of pursuing a canal in Panama and not Nicaragua due to funding from the French, he sued them for libel), or his belief that he could authorize sending Marines to Cuba to put down insurrection there without the authorization of Congress.

Then there is the Philippines-American War, which has quite a point in the 1912 Presidential Election. It's a war in which the United States systemically employed torture (as found in a report by the Commanding General of the U.S. Army) and in the end resulted in a death toll estimated at 250,000 to 750,000 for civilians. The war, which lasted from 1898 to 1902, was finished up by Roosevelt himself as the President lionized American soldiers even as Americans at home, such as Mark Twain and William Jennings Bryan, protested. The Governor-General of the Philippines from 1901-1903 during the latter half of the war? William Howard Taft, later President and Republican nominee in 1912.

When the two former friends would clash in the 1912 Republican Primaries (a first for parties and a Progressive reform from that wing of the party), Taft came away with the Republican nomination due to the new system as well as Robert M. LaFollette Sr., refusing to release his delegates to Roosevelt in hopes of getting the nomination for himself out of a contested convention. Not content to sit idly by with reforms on his mind, Roosevelt took his wing of the party and formed the Progressive Party and ably handed the election to Woodrow Wilson in an electoral vote—if not popular vote—landslide.

But who was Woodrow Wilson? To history books, a studious New Jersey Governor who replaced boisterous politicians with a scholarly approach to politics who had big ideas and strong ideals. To reality, he was a nightmare for racial progress in the United States and helped strengthen segregation for years to come, particularly in the south when his tenure pushed back progress already made. And no, this is not some bullshit about "everyone was a racist back then", Wilson was particularly racist for 1912. In 1913, pro-civil rights journalist Oswald Garrison Villard wrote that the Wilson administration "has allied itself with the forces of reaction, and put itself on the side of every torturer, of every oppressor, of every perpetrator of racial injustice in the South or the North." Those few black government employees who could not be fired were put into literal cages to separate them from their white employees who just years earlier they had worked with side by side under Taft and Roosevelt. Wilson was not a product of his time, but a step back for it and we dishonor the people who fought him tooth and nail to assume everyone then agreed with such despicable acts.

So where does that leave the 1912 Presidential Election? Shouldn't I talk about the facts and figures and the primaries and all of that? I could, certainly, but political history isn't just lining up what percent in what county a candidate got, it's about who ran and why. The 1912 Presidential Election is not just interesting because it is data about a race with 4 major candidates: it is interesting because it's a race featuring two candidates connected to a war involving war crimes and torture as well as imperialism while pushing for domestic progressivism against another candidate who pushed for progressivism for white men and taking steps back on racial progress for all others who then also engaged in imperialism in Central America. Then throw in Eugene V. Debs, an angry and passionate socialist fighter for unions and strikers who was jailed twice for his beliefs and that's what makes an election matter. It's about people and the effects they have on all of us, not cool stories or little snippets to put at the top of an article summary; that's all a lot of bull mooseshit.