6Colod hill SAort
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WILLIAM R. LINNEMAN
DURING Benjamin Harrison's administration, a Texan comic
character known as "Col. Bill Snort" became a popular
commentator on American politics. Snort, who was cast
in the role of an adviser to the Republican President, was nom-
inally a Texas Democrat, a member of the "rock-ribbed, copper-
distilled, sour-mash Democratic party. The great unsung, unhon-
ored, and unsoaped."l Snort was pictured by his creator, Alex E.
Sweet, as venal, unscrupulous, and prejudiced, and his flopping
from one party to the other was a satire on the "mugwumps" and
turncoat politicians of the age.
Snort lies within the tradition of the comic rogue, and his state-
ments have to be read as a form of irony. He voiced his opinion, or
prejudices, to such an immoderate degree, that the average reader
probably compensated them by taking an opposite or more mod-
erate viewpoint. These "Snort" comments were delivered in a
series of weekly letters that appeared in the illustrated humor mag-
azine Texas Siftings. Although ostensibly in the service of the Re-
publicans, at least while Harrison was in office, Snort did little
more than tell of the party's misconduct, confusion, and devotion
to vested interests. Actually, the letters were written from the
Democratic viewpoint by Sweet, Siftings editor, and were syndi-
cated in some fifty Democratic newspapers, during the campaign
of 1892. So popular were these letters that they created a public
belief in Snort as a real person, and it was reported that Grover
Cleveland, in his travels throughout the country in his second
term, became annoyed by persons who insisted Colonel Snort was
with the presidential party.
As a presidential adviser Snort became a member of a select
'Texas Siftings, XXI (July 21, 1894), 5.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101190/. Accessed August 22, 2014.