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The Poll
image id: ps_prn_cd39_566

[Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827)]
The Poll
[London]: Pub. by E. Dorchery, April 27, 1784
NYPL, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Print Collection

Despite the long tradition of female campaigning, women politicians still found themselves vulnerable to ridicule. The 1784 election for Westminster, an area of London with an unusually large electorate, demonstrates the conflict: when Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, supported the Whig Charles James Fox, she was lambasted in dozens of scurrilous prints, some of which gave new meaning to the term "dirty politics." In The Poll she appears on a phallic seesaw with the Honorable Mrs. Albinia Hobart; elsewhere she is depicted kissing butchers to win votes. All of these prints were paid for by the opposition—and they didn't work, since Fox won the election, thus retaining Whig control of Parliament.

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