|The Commercial Traveler and the Small Dealer|
The Monster Leading his Hosts
|Next to politicians, a favorite subject of Davenport’s were animals. While horses were a favorite, his other critters likewise projected a surreal element to his work. Like this piece for example: The generic Trust Brute astride a bellowing hippopotamus, standing on a pile of bones, with skulls labeled “Commercial Traveler” and “Small Dealer.” The banners of the Trusts led by Dollar Mark Hanna bring up the rear. Davenport apparently knew that hippos are among the most dangerous animals in the world due to their highly aggressive and unpredictable nature. The political angle of this piece from the Tammany Times implies a certain unity in those two business groups. A distinguished and intelligent contemporary says:
“The Democratic party alone can be depended upon to regulate the inequalities and the injustices that mark the relations of the trusts to the public, and it is for this reason that, without respect to the partisan leanings of its members, the Anti-Trust League of Commercial Travelers and Hotel Men have taken the side of the Democracy.”
This is strikingly true. The commercial travelers have been made to suffer by the trusts, and they naturally regard the trusts as their enemies. The hotel men have felt the same blow, and have the same feeling.
The American consumer is in sympathy with them, because he feels, perhaps more keenly than the others, the burdens imposed upon the people by the trusts. And these men are fully aware that there is but one party that can be relied upon by the public in these matters. The Republican party is the natural friend of trusts. From the Republican party the trusts receive sympathy and support, and the laws are so shaped that extortion can be practiced with safety, as the Republican officials entrusted with the enforcement of the laws are in most instances creatures of the trusts. The Republican party is the friend of the trusts, the foe of the plain people. The Democratic party is the foe of the trusts, and the friend of the plain people.
The Tammany Times - February 5, 1900
However, a letter to the Editor of the Californian Humbolt Times paints a different viewpoint:
“Dear Sir: —There has been a great deal of rot in the Democratic-Populist papers of the past few weeks relative to the commercial travelers being antagonistic to Wm. McKinley and the Republican administration, and that all the travelers were anxiously awaiting next election day to vote and work against the nominees of prosperity and sound money. It has been very annoying to the travelers to be so misrepresented, as they propose to do nothing of the kind ... Thanking you in advance for your kindness in publishing my remonstrance to this contemptible libel on the successful commercial traveler. Yours very truly, and for McKinley, Robert H. Davis, Vice-President and Director of Pacific Coast Commercial Travelers’ Association.”
Humboldt Times - August 25, 1900