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 the early presidential candidates in the field, including Henry Clay and Martin Van Buren, was embraced by Democratic nominee James K. Polk. As the campaign developed the Texas question became an important issue. The artist shows it to be a decisive weapon for the Democrats against Clay and his pro-Bank platform. The "masked battery" is a large cannon fired by Polk and the diminutive Democratic senator from Mississippi Robert J. Walker. Walker's February letter defending annexation had brought the Texas issue to the fore in the campaign. The cannon has been "masked" or hidden from the Whigs on the left by two rows of knights, among whom are Van Buren and Calhoun (carrying flags of their respective states, New York and South Carolina) and John Tyler and Richard M. Johnson. In a balloon above the scene appear Andrew Jackson's "General Orders" on the campaign strategy: "Let the enemy expend their fire on the veteran candidates in Armor [Van Buren, Calhoun, et al], drawn up before the Battery so as to hide it perfectly. Then, when the enemy is prepared to charge, open suddenly to the right and left in double quick time, and let go the big Gun charged with Texas." Polk, lighting the charge, says "Alas poor Harry! You should not have stood by that Bank and opposed our younger sister State who asks our help." At left, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and other Whigs are felled by the "Texas" cannonball. Clay is knocked into a column of the U.S. Bank, which breaks and topples the building. Clay: "Oh! who would have thought that behind those leaders they had a commander-in-chief & a masked battery, with my old enemy [i.e., Polk] I d--d to H--l, on the Pensylvania avenue. How did he come here? I'm a gone coon!" Clay refers to his celebrated outburst against then-Speaker of the House Polk in 1838. (On this, see "Scene in Washington," no. 1838-16). Clay's running-mate Theodore Frelinghuysen appears at the far left as a devil in clerical robes, weighed down by an immense "Bag of lies about the Loco Foco Candidates not yet paid for." He says, "The main pillar of the Bank broken! who is now to pay me for all the lies I had stored up in Washington against the Loco Foco candidates? It is too late to make up any about Polk & Dallas, & I shall never be paid unless I take my men on whom the Bank is falling."
Entered . . . 1844 by James Baillie, N.Y.
Lithography and print coloring on reasonable terms by James Baillie No. 33 Spruce St. New York.
Official records show that the print was registered for copyright on June 28, 1844. The Library's impression is inscribed with the deposit date of July 1.
Signed: H. Bucholzer.
Title appears as it is written on the item.
Weitenkampf, p. 75.
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 1844-29.
Glimpses of U.S. political campaigns in magazine covers and satire.