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The mountain in labor

The mountain in labor

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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 is the "Volcano of Loco-Focoism" which spews "Repudiation" from its peak and sends out two mice, Martin Van Buren and John C. Calhoun, from its base. "Loco Foco," originally an appellation of a radical faction of New York Democrats, was by 1844 a pejorative label applied to the party in general. In "The Mountain in Labor" the artist seems to belittle Van Buren and Calhoun, the early front-runners for the Democratic presidential nomination. Van Buren says, "Don't be afeard its only us!" and Calhoun expresses his anti-tariff stance with, "Free trade!" A crowd watches from the lower right, one of them declaring, "It's the old Kinderhook mouse and his nullifying crony!" Also witnessing the event is Henry Clay (left) who comments, "The mountains labor and bring forth ridiculous mice! Here's the trap that will catch them!" At his feet is a mouse trap "National Faith." In a nearby armchair sits President John Tyler, dressed in a uniform and holding a "Veto" sword. The uniform may be an allusion to his Jacksonian policies, or the mantle inherited from his popular predecessor, Gen. William Henry Harrison. Tyler, who acceded to the presidency on Harrison's death, earned his party's wrath by repeatedly vetoing Whig efforts to reestablish a national bank. Here he reflects his determination to retain the White House, saying, "Possession being nine points in the law I must head them [the mice] both off!" The cartoon was probably published in 1843 or early in 1844. It may have been issued around the time of the late-August 1843 New York City Democratic convention, at which both Van Buren and Calhoun showed considerable strength. It must in any event predate the May 1844 Democratic national convention. By that time the range of Democratic hopefuls had widened considerably and Calhoun, appointed Tyler's secretary of state in March, was no longer a likely nominee. Weitenkampf cites an impression of the print with an H. R. Robinson imprint.
Probably drawn by Edward Williams Clay.
Title appears as it is written on the item.
Weitenkampf, p. 74.
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 1843-9.

Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States (1837-1841), after serving as the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, both under President Andrew Jackson. While the country was prosperous when the "Little Magician" was elected, less than three months later the financial panic of 1837 punctured the prosperity. A member of the Democratic Party, he served in a number of senior roles, including eighth Vice President (1833–37) and tenth Secretary of State (1829–31), both under Andrew Jackson. Van Buren's inability as president to deal with the economic chaos of the Panic of 1837 and with the surging Whig Party led to his defeat in the 1840 election. "The less government interferes with private pursuits, the better for general prosperity."

John Tyler was the tenth President of the United States (1841-1845). He was the first Vice-President to succeed to the Presidency after the death of his predecessor, President William Henry Harrison who died in April 1841. John Tyler was a constitutionalist. When the southern states started to secede in 1861, he tried to reach a compromise but failed and became one of the founders of the Southern Confederacy and was a member of the eleven Southern states Confederate House of Representatives. He died in 1862, in the beginning of the American Civil War. "Let it be henceforth proclaimed to the world that man's conscience was created free; that he is no longer accountable to his fellow man for his religious opinions, being responsible therefore only to his God."

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





Clay, Edward Williams, 1799-1857.
Robinson, Henry R., -1850.




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