Liberty, the fair maid of Kansas--in the hands of the "border ruffians"
A bitter indictment of the Democratic administration's responsibility for violence and bloodshed in Kansas in the wake of the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act. (See also "Forcing Slavery Down the Throat of a Freesoiler" and "Democratic Platform Illustrated," nos. 1856-8 and 1856-11.) The print appeared during the presidential campaign of 1856. In the center stands Democratic incumbent Franklin Pierce, dressed in the buckskins of a "border ruffian," as the violent, proslavery invaders of the Kansas territory from Missouri were known. He has planted his foot on an American flag which is draped over Liberty, who kneels at his feet imploring, "O spare me gentlemen, spare me!!" Pierce is armed with a rifle, and has a tomahawk, dagger, pistol, and scalp on his belt. At right a similarly outfitted Lewis Cass stands licking his lips and scoffing, "Poor little Dear. We wouldnt hurt her for the world, would we Frank? ha! ha! ha! . . ." At the far right Democratic senator Stephen Douglas kneels over a slain farmer and holds up the hapless victim's scalp, exclaiming, "Hurrah for our side! Victory! Victory! "We will subdue them yet." "On the far left Democratic candidate James Buchanan and secretary of state William Marcy (with his characteristic fifty-cent" trouser patch) kneel over another victim and empty his pockets. Buchanan lifts the man's watch, saying,"T'was your's once but its mine now, "Might makes right," dont it." Pierce responds, "You may bet your life on that, ole Puddinhead," and says to Liberty, "Come Sis--sy, you go along wid me, I'le take Good care of "you" (hic) "over the left."" In the left background a cottage burns, and the mad widow of a murdered settler stands before a group of ruffians. Widow: "Come husband let us go to heaven, where our poor Children are." Ruffian, thumbing his nose: "Ho! ho! She thinks I'm her husband, we Scalped the Cus and she like a D--m fool went Crazy on it, and now she wants me to go to heaven with her, . . . " In the distance are further scenes of pillage and murder. Attribution to Magee is based on the print's clear stylistic similarity to his "Forcing Slavery Down the Throat of a Freesoiler" (no. 1856-8). A number of satires published by John Childs during the 1856 campaign are also attributable to Magee on stylistic grounds.
Drawn by John L. Magee.
Title appears as it is written on the item.
Murrell, p. 190.
Weitenkampf, p. 115.
Published in: American political prints, 1766-1876 / Bernard F. Reilly. Boston : G.K. Hall, 1991, entry 1856-9.
Glimpses of U.S. political campaigns in magazine covers and satire.