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U.S. Political Campaigns

Glimpses of U.S. political campaigns in magazine covers and satire.
The presidential elections of the United States /
420 Media in collectionpage 1 of 5

The triumph of America

Print shows William Pitt, the first Earl of Chatham, driving a triumphal carriage in which rides a Native American representing America. The carriage is drawn by a team of six horses, "Royal Oak, Crafty, Weathe... more

The north star

Print shows Lord Bute seated on clouds from behind which project rays of the sun, he holds a cat-o'-nine-tails in one hand, a purse in the other, his feet rest on an open volume of "the Laws of England". To his... more

The machine to go without asses

Print shows George III and Liberty riding in a carriage labeled "Magna Charta" as it passes over the Duke of Grafton, the Earl of Bute, Lord Holland, and Lord Mansfield.

The Chevalier D'--n producing his evidence against certain persons

Print shows opposing groups of government officials; Chevalier D'Eon, portrayed as an ape, vomits on Lord Bute who stands before other members of the Duke of Grafton's ministry and astride the Earl of Hillsboro... more

The state blacksmiths forging fetters for the Americans

Print shows the interior of a blacksmith's shop with Lord Mansfield forging the links to a chain, Lord North standing to the left holding lorgnette and, in his right hand, a paper "An act for prohibiting all tr... more

The wise men of Gotham and their goose

Print shows Lord Bute, with sword raised, about to cut the head off the goose "who laid each day an egg of gold" representing British policies toward the American colonies. A corpulant bishop is sitting in the ... more

The blessed effects of venality

Print shows a man, possibly George III, chopping a leg "Commons" of a three-legged stool, "Lords" and "Privy Council" being the other two legs, which may represent the Parliament and its openness to corruption,... more

The experiment in full operation

An anti-Jackson satire, critical of the President's federal treasury policy and of Vice-President Van Buren's influence on the administration's fiscal program. The print specifically attacks Jackson's plan to d... more

"This is the house that Jack built . . ."

Caricature shows Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Francis Blair, William J. Duane, and others, with various animals. A crudely-drawn, anonymous satire on the Jackson Administration, alleging political intrigue... more

The people putting responsibility to the test or the downfall of the kitchen cabinet and collar presses

A prediction of dire consequences to follow from Jackson's withdrawal of federal funds from the Bank of the United States, initiated late in 1833. The artist is harshly critical of Jackson's move to distribute... more

"The government." No. 1, [Eye] take the responsibility

A satire on Andrew Jackson's "Kitchen Cabinet," the pejorative name given his informal circle of close advisors. The print appeared during the heated controversy incited by Jackson's discontinuation of federal ... more

New method of assorting the mail, as practised by Southern slave-holders, or attack on the Post Office, Charleston, S.C.

A portrayal of the nocturnal raid on the Charleston post office by a mob of citizens and the burning of abolitionist mails found there in July 1835. Mail sacks are handed through a forced window of the ransack... more

Spirit of the times

Satire on the diplomatic crisis and threat of hostilities between the United States and France over the latter's refusal to pay indemnifications set by the Treaty of 1831. The situation was exacerbated by remar... more

Grand Virginia reel and scamperdown at the Whitehouse Washington

Another satire on Andrew Jackson's conflict with French king Louis Philippe over French reparations due the United States under the Treaty of 1831. The artist blames vice-president Van Buren for escalation of a... more

The heads of two great nations have at last come to the situation of the two goats in the fable . . .

A pro-Jackson commentary on the confrontation between the United States and France over reparations due the U.S. under the Treaty of 1831 (See "Spirit of the Times" no. 1836-4). The situation reached crisis int... more

The debilitated situation of a monarchal government . . .

A pointed comparison of French and American governments, prompted by events surrounding American efforts in 1836 to force France to honor spoliation claims for American shipping losses suffered during the Napol... more

Uncle Sam sick with la grippe

A satire attributing the dire fiscal straits of the nation to Andrew Jackson's banking policies, with specific reference to recent bank failures in New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia. The artist blames th... more

Fifty cents. Shin plaster

Another mock shinplaster (see also nos. 1837-9 and -10 above). Again the artist attributes the shortage of hard money to the successive monetary programs of presidents Jackson and Van Buren, particularly to the... more

New edition of MacBeth. Bank-oh's! Ghost

Another satire on the Panic of 1837, again condemning Van Buren's continuation of predecessor Andrew Jackson's hard-money policies as the source of the crisis. Clay shows the president haunted by the ghost of C... more

Treasury note

A parody of the often worthless fractional currencies or "shinplasters" issued by banks, businesses, and municipalities in lieu of coin. These fractional notes proliferated during the Panic of 1837 with the eme... more

6 cents. Humbug glory bank

Another mock bank note parodying the "shinplasters" of the 1837 panic. Such small-denomination notes were based on the division of the Spanish dollar, the dominant specie of the time. Hence they were issued in ... more

An exploring expedition on the Canal Street plan / The exploring expedition at the South Pole, waiting for stores

Print satirizes Charles Wilkes' United States Exploring Expedition, which left in August 1838. The upper left vignette shows Wilkes in a rowboat with scientists who use a transit or telescope to see fauna. The ... more

"Sober second thought"

Another of HD's portrayals of the New York tradesman's "sober second thoughts" about his support of Democratic hard-money fiscal policies. (See also "Specie Claws," no. 1838-14.) Both prints touch upon the the ... more

Abolition frowned down

A satire on enforcement of the "gag-rule" in the House of Representatives, prohibiting discussion of the question of slavery. Growing antislavery sentiment in the North coincided with increased resentment by so... more

Professor Wise, performing a surgical operation in Congress Hall

Representative Henry A. Wise, vociferous opponent of the Van Buren administration, is portrayed as a surgeon, operating on Treasury Secretary Levi Woodbury. The satire refers to the cross-examination of Woodbur... more

The treasury-hen alarmed

A portrayal of Treasury Secretary Levi Woodbury as a hen nurturing corruption and shielding New York City customs house officials from congressional scrutiny. Woodbury spreads his wings over several chicks pec... more

"Worse than a Spanish Inquisition"

A commentary on the workings of the January 1839 congressional probe of the Treasury Department in the wake of the Swartwout embezzlement. (See "Price Current" and "Sub Treasurers Meeting in England," nos. 1838... more

A bull chase. The words of the wise, are as goads

Another satire on the special committee of the House of Representatives investigating Van Buren's Treasury Department. The committee, chaired by James Harlan but dominated by Henry A. Wise of Virginia, centered... more

Called to account

Once more the House of Representatives investigation of Treasury practices under the Van Buren administration in connection with the Swartwout embezzlement scandal. (See above nos. 1839-6 through -9.) The print... more

A Select Committee of Enquiry hard at work

A swipe at the integrity of the House of Representatives committee investigating the Swartwout scandal under Van Buren's administration (see "Price Current" and "Sub Treasurers Meeting in England," nos. 1838-21... more

Animal magnetism

A swipe at President Van Buren's independent treasury system and his continuation of the monetary policies of predecessor Andrew Jackson. The artist, clearly in sympathy with the Whigs, links corruption in the ... more

Clar de kitchen

Another Whig campaign satire, picturing incumbent Martin Van Buren and his Democratic advisers or "Kitchen Cabinet" routed by Whig candidate William Henry Harrison. In a domestic kitchen Harrison, dressed as a ... more

This is the house that Jack built

The Van Buren administration's record, particularly with regard to the handling of public finances, is condemned as corrupt and a perpetuation of unpopular Jacksonian policies. The artist echoes perennial Whig ... more

The new era or the effects of a standing army

A condemnation of a Van Buren administration plan, put forward by Secretary of War Joel Poinsett, to reform the militia system through creation of a reserve force under regular army officers. The idea was attac... more

Matty's perilous situation up Salt River

A pro-Whig satire on the presidential campaign of 1840. Martin Van Buren is neck-deep in the waters of "Salt River," a colloquial term for political misfortune or failure. He sinks under the weight of boxes m... more

A bivouack in safety or Florida troops preventing a surprise

Another parody of Van Buren administration efforts to end the long and costly Second Seminole War in Florida. The War Department was regularly subjected to public and congressional attacks for cruelty, waste, a... more

The Secretary of War presenting a stand of colours to the 1st Regiment of Republican bloodhounds

A bitter vilification of the Van Buren administration's use of bloodhounds to hunt fugitive Indians during the Second Seminole War in Florida. The artist condemns the racism and inhumanity of the measure, as w... more

This log cabin was the first building erected on the North Bend . . .

A Whig campaign print, showing William Henry Harrison greeting a wounded veteran before a log cabin by a river. The cabin flies an American flag with the words "Harrison & Tyler" and with a liberty cap on its s... more

The great American steeple chase for 1844

An imaginative and elaborate parody on the upcoming 1844 presidential campaign. The artist favors Whig nominee-apparent Henry Clay and is highly critical of incumbent John Tyler. The "chase" for the presidency ... more

The mountain in labor

The artist employs Aesop's fable about the mountain which was said to be in labor, its dreadful groans attracting expectant crowds only to be disappointed when it issued forth a small mouse. Here the mountain i... more

The masked battery or Loco-Foco strategy

Another commentary on the Texas question (see "Texas Coming In," no. 1844-28), illustrating Democratic campaign strategy as advanced by Andrew Jackson. The idea of the annexation of Texas, repudiated by many of... more

Not a drum was heard nor a funeral note . . .

The erosion of Democratic support for presidential hopeful Martin Van Buren is portrayed as the funeral of "the Kinderhook fox." The print was deposited for copyright on May 22, 1844, one week before the Democr... more

The hunter of Kentucky

Henry Clay is the hunter, and various Democrats his quarry. Clay wears a fringed buckskin outfit and coonskin cap reminiscent of Davy Crockett and the Western characters of the contemporary stage, such as Nimro... more

The little magician invoked

Martin Van Buren, known as "the Little Magician" for his remarkable political agility, summons spirits to divine the Democratic or "Loco Foco" prospects for election in 1844. He sits in an astrological circle, ... more

The two bridges

As in "Texas Coming In" (no. 1844-28), a bridge over Salt River is the central motif, making the difference between the Whigs' successful crossing to the "Presidential Chair" and the disastrous route taken by t... more

Anti annexation procession

A cynical look at the opposition to American annexation of Texas during the 1844 campaign. At the head of a motley procession is Whig candidate and professed anti-annexationist Henry Clay, riding a raccoon (wh... more

Sale of dogs

Seeking a middle course between the issues of the annexation of Texas on one hand and abolitionism on the other, Van Buren lost the support of southern Democrats, including elderly statesman Andrew Jackson. Her... more

Loco Foco triumphal honors

A mock triumphal procession ridiculing "Loco Foco" or radical Democratic support of candidates James K. Polk and George M. Dallas. The Loco Focos are portrayed as ragged Irishmen, carrying the two candidates on... more

Polk & Co. Going up Salt River

The artist foresees a Democratic defeat in the 1844 presidential election. Party figures Martin Van Buren, Thomas Hart Benton, vice-presidential candidate George M. Dallas, Andrew Jackson, and presidential nomi... more

Cleansing the Augean stable

A pro-Whig satire, envisioning the cleansing of the "Augean Stable" of government corruption by presidential candidate Henry Clay and other Whigs. The title derives from one of the twelve mythical labors of Her... more

Political cock fighters

A figurative portrayal of the 1844 presidential contest as a cock-fight, in which Whig candidate Henry Clay prevails. Clay and Democratic opponent Polk battle in a pit or ring as several prominent political fi... more

Uncle Sam and his servants

An anti-Tyler satire, lampooning the incumbent's efforts to secure a second term against challengers Henry Clay and James Polk. With his shoulder to the door Tyler bars the entry of (left to right) John C. Cal... more

Fight between the Kentucky coon & the Tennessee alligator

A woodland fantasy satirizing the prominent figures of the 1844 election campaign. The artist again favors Whig candidate Henry Clay, the "Kentucky Coon," who is shown overwhelming Democrat James K. Polk, the ... more

Virtuous Harry, or set a thief to catch a thief!

A satire on the Whig party's anti-annexation platform. The question of whether or not to annex Texas was a large issue separating candidates in the 1844 campaign. Annexation's serious implications for the futur... more

Matty meeting the Texas question

A satire on the Democrats' approach to the delicate question of the annexation of Texas. In marked contrast to his portrayal of the issue as a beautiful woman in "Virtuous Harry" (no. 1844-27), the artist here ... more

Matty taking his second bath in Salt River

A satire published before the Democratic convention, predicting would-be presidential nominee Martin Van Buren's second "bath in Salt River" (the first one being his unsuccessful bid for reelection in 1840). O... more

Sold for want of use

Bucholzer again uses animal characterizations to poke fun at the respective faults of prominent Democrats in the 1844 presidential race. In an interior, Whig nominee Henry Clay conducts a livestock auction, off... more

Treeing coons

One of the few satires sympathetic to the Democrats to appear during the 1844 presidential contest. Democratic presidential nominee James Polk is portrayed as a buckskinned hunter who has treed "coons" Henry Cl... more

Patent Democratic Republican steam shaving shop

A cryptic satire possibly dealing with some facet of the 1844 presidential campaign. The print features two unsuccessful aspirants for the Democratic presidential nomination: Martin Van Buren and Richard M. Joh... more

Tyrants prostrate liberty triumphant

A polemic applauding Democratic support of the Dorrite cause in Rhode Island. (See also "Trouble in the Spartan Ranks," and "The Great Political Car and Last Load of Patriots," nos. 1843-6 and 1845-5). In the ... more

The whale that swallowed Jonah

An election-year cartoon satirizing disharmony within the Whig ranks on the bank issue. The artist suggests a division of opinion between New England's Daniel Webster and presidential nominee Henry Clay on the ... more

A peep at the future

A Whig fantasy on the supposed outcome of the 1844 election. Here Henry Clay and Theodore Frelinghuysen occupy the White House. They watch from a window as John Tyler plays a hand organ and leads a group of mi... more

Footrace, Pennsylvania Avenue. Stakes $25,000

The race for a $25,000 prize (the president's salary) is a metaphor for the 1844 campaign. The favored contender here is Henry Clay. The other runners are James K. Polk and John Tyler, while commentaries are of... more

Texas coming in

A pro-Democrat cartoon forecasting the collapse of Whig opposition to the annexation of Texas. James K. Polk, the expansionist candidate, stands at right near a bridge spanning "Salt River." He holds an America... more

The coon party crossing Cayuga Bridge Novr. 1844. Or the effects of Cassius M. Clay's political tour to western N. York

A cartoon on the defeat of Whig Henry Clay in the 1844 presidential election, ascribing his loss of the state of New York to his cousin Cassius M. Clay's campaign tour on his behalf. Oddly, though given promine... more

One of the young bo-hoys in exstacies before the coons of 1844

A satire, puzzling in its precise meaning, on the ascendance of the radical wing of the Whig party in New York's gubernatorial election of 1846. Influential radical journalist Horace Greeley dances a jig to th... more

Distinguished military operations with a hasty bowl of soup

The satire apparently perceives President Polk's reinstatement of Winfield Scott over Zachary Taylor as commander of U.S. forces in the Mexican War in November 1846 as an attempt to squelch the extreme personal... more

Volunteers for Texas. As you were

A scornful portrayal of the poor caliber of American volunteers for the Mexican War. The print evidently appeared at the outset of the conflict, as the Library's impression was deposited for copyright on May 13... more

Present Presidential position

Once again Polk's handling of the Oregon territorial dispute between the United States and Great Britain is criticized. (See "Polk's Dream" and "War! or No War!" nos. 1846-2 and 1846-4). Here the artist seems t... more

Ultimatum on the Oregon question

In his typically jingoist view of Polk's handling of the Oregon question, the artist Edward Williams Clay belittles the self-interested attitudes of Europe toward the dispute. The issue of whether to settle the... more

Santa Anna declining a hasty plate of soup at Cerro Gordo

An exultant view of Winfield Scott's second major victory in the Mexican War, at the Battle of Cerro Gordo, where Mexican commander Santa Anna beat an unceremonious retreat. In the mid-April victory Santa Anna'... more

Battle of Churrubusco

A slightly modified version of "Battle of Cerro Gordo" (no. 1847-2), in all likelihood produced by the same lithographer. The scene is quite similar, except for the inclusion of the later battle (the Battle of ... more

The organ kicked out

The Senate's February 1847 resolution barring reporters and editors of the "Washington Union" from the Senate floor and gallery was the basis for the artist's demeaning portrayal of the newspaper's powerful edi... more

Battle of Cerro Gordo

An attack on James K. Polk's attempts to undermine Winfield Scott's military efforts and reputation through his handling of the Mexican War in April 1847. Shortly after Scott's victory at Cerro Gordo, Polk disp... more

Town & country making another drive at the great question.--No go!!

A mild reproof of Zachary Taylor's evasion of the slavery question in the campaign of 1848. Although Taylor's views were widely broadcast in the form of published letters, his stand on the main issue--the Wilmo... more

Knock'd into a cock'd hat

Zachary Taylor's presidential nomination at the Whig national convention in Philadelphia on June 9, 1848, is represented as a severe blow to Lewis Cass, nominated by the Democrats a few weeks earlier. The extre... more

The telegraphic candidates

In a race between the railroad and the telegraph the "telegraphic candidates," Lewis Cass and William O. Butler, are first to the White House. The artist ridicules Zachary Taylor for his hazy stance on major ca... more

Political game of brag. Shew of hands

The artist resorts to the familiar metaphor of a card game for the presidential stakes in his rendition of the 1848 contest. The major contenders play a game of "brag" (an early form of poker). Around the tabl... more

An old hunker fishing for votes

Facing a relative lack of enthusiasm for his campaign in New York State, Lewis Cass hoped to muster Democratic rank-and-file support by endorsing for lieutenant-governor the popular lawyer Charles O'Conor. Her... more

Worrying the bull

In a ring a large bull, wearing a ribbon marked "The Rough & Ready" between its horns, faces five matadors. The bull represents Zachary Taylor, nicknamed "Old Rough and Ready." The matadors are prominent Whigs,... more

Bagging the game

The artist predicts a decisive Whig victory in the presidential election of 1848, with Whig candidate Zachary Taylor "bagging" all of the states in an electoral sweep. (Taylor actually carried only fifteen of t... more

A correct chart of Salt River

"Salt River," the fictitious river of political doom, is charted here as a meandering stream of Democratic misfortunes. The chart was purportedly "prepared by Father Ritchie," i.e., Democratic editor and Polk a... more

Fording Salt River

An election-year satire favoring Free Soil candidate Martin Van Buren in the 1848 presidential contest. A long-legged John Van Buren carries his father piggyback through Salt River, heading toward the White Ho... more

The assassination of the Sage of Ashland

The artist conveys some of the profound disappointment and anger among Henry Clay's many supporters at the nomination of Zachary Taylor at the June 1848 Whig convention in Philadelphia. The convention's act was... more

The day after the fair

A pro-Cass satire, predicting the Democratic nominee's victory over Whig Zachary Taylor and Free Soil candidate Martin Van Buren. After the "fair," or election, Lewis Cass appears at the window of the White Ho... more

Coming to terms!

A gently satirical commentary on Zachary Taylor's bid for the presidency. In a small office Taylor, hat in hand, is interviewed by a young Brother Jonathan, who sits in a rocking chair with his legs propped up ... more

Cass & his cabinet in 1849

The satire imputes to the Democrats of 1848, led by candidate Lewis Cass, the corrupt practices of the Van Buren-era party. The artist also criticizes Whig repudiation of stalwart party leader Henry Clay in fav... more

The fox hunt

Again Van Buren's flirtation with radical interests is portrayed as his downfall. As in "The Modern Colossus" (no. 1848-56) antislavery activist Abby Folsom (here "Abby Fulsome") is prominently featured. Here s... more

The Democratic funeral of 1848

Foreseeing political death for the Democrats in the election, the artist imagines a funeral of the party's standard-bearers with a procession of the faithful. Democratic senators (left to right) Sam Houston of ... more

Whig harmony

A severe split within the Whig ranks, between partisans of Henry Clay and those of Zachary Taylor, preceded the party's convention in June 1848. Here Horace Greeley, one of Clay's most influential northern supp... more

"Misery acquaints a man with strange bed-fellows"

A satire on the unlikely alliance of rival editors Horace Greeley and James Watson Webb in support of Zachary Taylor for the presidency in 1848. Unlike Webb, one of Taylor's earliest and most enthusiastic New Y... more

Rowing him up Salt River

The cartoonist is optimistic about the prospects of Whig presidential candidate Zachary Taylor, here shown rowing Democratic oppponent Lewis Cass up the river of political misfortune. Cass, seated in the stern,... more

Who says gas? Or the Democratic b-hoy

A pro-Democrat satire, pitting Democratic candidate Lewis Cass against Whig nominee Zachary Taylor in a bout for the presidency. Cass (center) is the obvious favorite. He wears the stovepipe hat, boots, bold pl... more

The liberty chariot

A burlesque triumphal procession representing victory for the Democratic platform in the election of 1848. In a chariot drawn by Democrats Lewis Cass and William O. Butler (shown as two horses), Uncle Sam drive... more

Self-inflating pillow

American general Gideon J. Pillow's self-promoting attempts to discredit Mexican War commander Gen. Winfield Scott are ridiculed in this portrayal of Scott puncturing "Polk's Patent" pillow. Pillow's efforts we... more

The candidate of many parties. A phrenological examination to ascertain what his political principles are

Whig nominee Zachary Taylor's reluctance to clearly declare his political views was an issue eagerly exploited by the opposition in the 1848 campaign. Here the artist shows phrenologist Orson S. Fowler probing... more

The strife, between an old hunker, a barnburner and a no party man

A particularly well-drawn satire on the three major presidential contenders for 1848, (left to right) Zachary Taylor, Martin Van Buren and Lewis Cass. Of the three the artist seems to favor Van Buren, the "Barn... more

Cock of the walk

The title refers to Whig candidate Zachary Taylor as the probable victor in the 1848 presidential contest. Taylor is portrayed as a victorious fighting cock, standing over his dead opponent, another cock with t... more