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 leads to the White House (upper left) where Robert Tyler arouses his sleeping father saying, "Come wake up old Sampson, the Philistines are upon you!" President Tyler replies with a yawn: "Why Bobby my Pippin! I do believe I've been asleep! no matter I'm the People's favorite and belong to no Party. They will reelect me! If they don't I'll veto the whole concern d--n me!" His statement and the presence of a "Veto" paper on his desk allude to his liberal use of the presidential refusal to stymie Whig congressional efforts to establish a National Bank. In Robert Tyler's pocket is a scroll "Irish Repeal," referring to his support of that international movement. Approaching the steps of the White House, riding a beast which is half-horse and half-alligator (a mythical animal associated in popular lore with Clay's Kentucky), is Henry Clay. He exclaims triumphantly, "Hurrah! Old Kentuck will distance them all yet, and then the views of the lamented Harrisson will be carried out in full, and treachery will meet its reward." The sun rises behind him and an eagle with a streamer reading "E pluribus unum" flies ahead. Clay is followed by South Carolina Democrat John Calhoun, who remarks, "My old nullification Coota Turtle is rather a slow Coach! I am afraid he won't get out of this Clay Bank!" Taking the lower road (in keeping with his reputation for intrigue) is Martin Van Buren, riding a fox and exclaiming, "Confound Calhoun! He is right in my way! I'll take a short cut and though the path is crooked and rather dirty, I don't care so that I get in." Van Buren was derisively nicknamed "the Kinderhook fox." On the same path are two more presidential aspirants, James K. Polk(?) and Richard M. Johnson. The first, sitting on a donkey and waving a club, yells, "I'am an Old Soldier, but I shall never get in unless I can turn this Donkeys head the right way." Johnson, who has fallen off his horse, exclaims, "My old amalgamation Nag has got the blind staggers! and I can stump it no longer!" "Amalgamation" was common parlance for the melding of races, more specifically referring here to Johnson's common-law marriage and offspring with a mulatto woman, Julia Chinn. Off to the right, Massachusetts senator Daniel Webster sits by an open fire, cooking a cauldron of "Chowder" (a staple of his native New England), vowing, "I shant leave my Chowder! unless my country calls me." Behind him on horseback is Gen. Winfield Scott who calls over to War of 1812 Commodore Charles Stewart, seated in a boat on a lake, "Odds bullets and bayonets! I don't care about being President but if my friends insist upon it I'll serve! I say Commodore, cant you or I get in by a Coup-de-main!" Stewart replies, "I think not General! so I'll haul my wind! I am better fitted to govern the helm of old Ironsides than the helm of State." In the lower right corner, a man (possibly Supreme Court Justice John McLean) falls head first down an incline, saying, "If I thought I had a drop of Democratic blood in my veins I would let it out."
Glimpses of U.S. political campaigns in magazine covers and satire.