The two bridges
As in "Texas Coming In" (no. 1844-28), a bridge over Salt River is the central motif, making the difference between the Whigs' successful crossing to the "Presidential Chair" and the disastrous route taken by the Democrats. The artist shows Whig candidates Clay and Frelinghuysen crossing a sturdy, modern "People's Bridge." In contrast, Democrats Thomas Hart Benton, George M. Dallas, and James K. Polk tumble from a rotting "Loco Foco Bridge" into Salt River. Benton is laden with a heavy bag or knapsack of "Mint Drops." Polk carries another sack marked "Annexation Texas," naming a major issue in the campaign. A sign on the bridge reads: "All persons are forbid going over this bridge faster than a slow walk." (The People's Bridge on the other hand is "adapted to swift travelling.") Party leader Martin Van Buren is already neck-deep in the water below, and Democratic patriarch Andrew Jackson tries to support part of the collapsing span on his back at right. Benton: "Alas! we were loaded too heavy. I forgot the old bridge was rotten." Van Buren: "I do believe that I shall never get out. I am stuck fast in the mud like a stationary buoy."
Entered . . . 1844 by J. Baillie.
Lith. & pub. by James Baillie 33 Spruce St. N.Y.
Lithography and print coloring on reasonable terms.
Signed: H. Bucholzer.
The Library's impression of "The Two Bridges" was deposited for copyright on June 26, 1844.
Title appears as it is written on the item.
Weitenkampf, p. 73.
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 1844-23.
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."
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.
President Martin Van BurenMartin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States (1837-1841)
President James K. PolkJames K. Polk was the 11th President of the United States from 1845 to 1849, the last strong pre-Civil War president.
U.S. Political CampaignsGlimpses of U.S. political campaigns in magazine covers and satire.