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[Original Art]

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Accession Number: 1949.22.49

Entitled: Sen. York Entrapping Pomeroy

Physical Description: Hand painted glass lanternslide in handmade rectangular wood frame. Painting depicts a bald man (Samuel Pomeroy) reaching his hand into a hole in a brown building that is labeled “The Public Crib.” Another man (Alexander York) stands behind him holding his shoulder. Both men are in black coats. The window of the frame is square, cut out of the wood. An additional piece of wood is added to the bottom of the frame and held in place with two nails. The title of the painting is written in pencil below the window. The glass sits in a cutout at the back of the frame and is held in place by three metal glazing points.

History of Object: Lanternslide painted by Samuel James Reader of Indianola, Kansas, and given to the donor by daughter Elizabeth Reader. Samuel Reader moved to Kansas in 1855 when he was 19 years old and lived in Indianola, a town north of Topeka, until his death in 1914. Primarily a farmer, he also was a Civil War soldier, artist, trustee for the township and Rochester Cemetery, and built two of his own houses. Reader kept a diary with nearly daily entries from age 13 until July 22, 1913. This diary makes up fifteen volumes. According to diary entries, Reader began making lanternslides on January 12, 1866. He created his first magic lantern out of a nail keg with a spyglass, but the image was very blurry. After a few months he tried to convince his aunt Eliza of the need to purchase a proper magic lantern, arguing that he saved money by not purchasing alcohol or tobacco. On June 30th, 1866, Reader received by mail order a magic lantern tube and chromotrope (the latter gave the appearance of a kaleidoscope when a lever was moved up and down.) Reader continued to purchase new and improved magic lantern equipment for many years. According to a letter from his daughter, Elizabeth Reader (dated December 1, 1942), their house was crowded with neighbors watching lanternslide shows on winter evenings. She noted that her father also held shows at country schoolhouses and churches to raise money for the community. He used a pocketknife and saw to make the slides. Reader noted in his diary that he laid out the slides on the roof for the paint to dry. The subject of this lanternslide is a 1870s political scandal. Kansas Senator Alexander York charged U.S. Senator Samuel Pomeroy with offering him $8,000 for his vote in the 1873 election. Pomeroy claimed that the money was for a business investment, not a bribe. The scandal caused Pomeroy to lose his Senate seat. Investigative committees at both the state and national levels claimed this was a plot to get Pomeroy out of the Senate. Ultimately the case was dropped but Pomeroy?s political career had ended. Reader painted Pomeroy with his arm inside the ?public crib,? or treasury, suggesting Pomeroy was taking public money to bribe York for a vote.

Date: 1873

Dimensions (in cm): 10.10 (H) 20.40 (W) 1.10 (D)

Marks/Inscriptions: [Handwritten near bottom of frame] Sen. Yorke entrapping Pomeroy. || [Painted in black on building in painting] THE PUBLIC / CRIB. ||

Index Terms

Associations and Subjects

    Individual: Pomeroy, Samuel Clark, 1816-1891
    Origin, Place of: Topeka (Kan.)
    Theme/topic: Politics
    Origin, Place of: Indianola (Kan.)
    Theme/topic: Political corruption
    Origin, Place of: Shawnee County (Kan.)
    Individual: York, Alexander Miner
    Group: Politicians
    Theme/topic: Bribery
    Individual: Reader, Samuel James, 1836-1914

Creators and Contributors

    Reader, Samuel J.

Status: Cataloged

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