Reports of his alcoholism haunted Democratic candidate Franklin Pierce during the 1852 campaign. The matter is taken up here with mocking reference to the Maine Liquor Law of 1851, a landmark prohibition measure first passed in Maine and subsequently adopted in several other states.
An obviously inebriated Pierce leans against a large tree at right, holding a bottle out toward a man who passes on horseback. The man holds a document "Maine Liquor Law" and carries a barrel of "Hard Cider" on his saddle. He wears a wide-brimmed hat and a drab outfit, indicating that he is a Quaker, among the chief supporters of the temperance movement.
Quaker: "Friend that tree looks as if it was old enough to stand alone--Thee need n't hold it up any longer."
Pierce: "You have the advantage of me, stranger.--My name is Frank Pierce & I'll stand as long as this tree will stand by me! I'm granite all over! give us your hand--Will you take a horn? I'll give you a toast--Here's confusion to all Maine Liquor Laws.
An owl perched on a branch of the tree hoots twice.
The Quaker's barrel of "Hard Cider" has a double meaning: it alludes to an earlier (and successful) Whig presidential candidate, William Henry Harrison, and casts doubt on the Quaker's temperance commitment.