National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
In the fall of 1873, an economic downturn precipitated the severe national depression that would last through President Grant’s second term. Financial firms on Wall Street began closing, and so did scores of banks that had exhausted their monetary reserves. Grant resisted the appeals of brokers and financers to increase the money supply, and he instead favored a policy of “hard money” backed by gold. Thomas Nast largely supported Grant’s sound money policy, as did the national press. In this cartoon, Nast depicts Grant as a chief of police who is helping the figure of Liberty escape from the ruins of Wall Street.