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The Democratic funeral of 1848

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The Democratic funeral of 1848

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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 Texas, Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, (obscured unidentified man), and South Carolina's John Calhoun carry a litter bearing the bodies of Van Buren, as a fox, and Lewis Cass, as a gas balloon (an unflattering play on his last name). Cass expels clouds of gas from his mouth. Benton carries a slip of paper with the words, "Last of the Family Reign." Calhoun carries an iron collar or manacle labeled "Slavery." They are followed by a second group of pallbearers: Ohio Senator William Allen, former Van Buren advisor Amos Kendall, New Hampshire Democratic leader Levi Woodbury, and former general William Worth, who carry a stretcher bearing retiring President Polk (with cloven hoofs and a devil's tail). Kendall also carries a document labeled "Latest Despatch" while Worth holds his "Military Comi--- [Commission?]," possibly alluding to his role in the Scott-Pillow controversy. (See "Self-Inflating Pillow," no. 1848-2.) An empty "Sub Treasury" box lies open next to Polk on the stretcher. The Independent or "Sub Treasury" bill was a widely criticized measure passed by the Polk administration in August 1846. All of the mourners wear clerical robes. A tombstone for the newspaper "Washington Union" is at left and a monument "To the Memory of Democracy" at right.
Probably drawn by E.F. Durang.
Pubd. by Peter E. Abel & Durang, Philada.
Title appears as it is written on the item.
Weitenkampf, p. 90.
Forms part of: American cartoon print filing series (Library of Congress)
Published in: American political prints, 1766-1876 / Bernard F. Reilly. Boston : G.K. Hall, 1991, entry 1848-48.

Polk was born in North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Governor of Tennessee. Polk was the dark horse candidate for president in 1844, defeating Henry Clay of the rival Whig Party by promising to annex the Republic of Texas. Under President Polk vast areas were added to the United States. During his 1845–49 presidency, Polk led the nation to a victory in the Mexican–American War, seizing nearly the whole of what is now the American Southwest. He threatened war with the United Kingdom over the issue of Oregon Country ownership, eventually reaching a settlement in which the British were made to sell the portion that became the Oregon Territory. He built a treasury system that lasted until 1913, oversaw the opening of the U.S. Naval Academy and of the Smithsonian Institution, the groundbreaking for the Washington Monument, and the issuance of the first United States postage stamp. True to his campaign pledge to serve only one term as President, Polk left office and returned to Tennessee in March 1849. He died of cholera three months later. "One great object of the Constitution was to restrain majorities from oppressing minorities or encroaching upon their just rights."

Glimpses of U.S. political campaigns in magazine covers and satire.

date_range

Date

01/01/1848
person

Contributors

Durang, Edwin Forrest, 1829-1911.
Abel & Durang.
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Location

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Source

Library of Congress
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No known restrictions on publication.

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