The 1852 Democratic victory under the standard of Franklin Pierce is foreseen as a debacle for the Whig party, led by Winfield Scott. Pierce (center) sits on his horse, holding aloft a banner bearing his and running mate William R. King's names. His troops rally around him--the party rank and file. Scott's forces are in chaos, routed into Salt River, the figurative stream of political disaster. Holding aloft a shredded banner, Scott (center) rides into the water with supporter William Seward holding tight to his horse's neck. Scott says, "Just as I expected, we relied too much on fuss and smoke, and have lost the battle, yet bravely hand in hand together, Seaward (Seward) we go, my Friend, my Brother."
To the left, a uniformed man, either William R. King or Illinois Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, boots Whig incumbent president Millard Fillmore into the river, saying, "I like consistency & have ever been in favor of the improvement of Rivers and Harbours. Slide in!" Fillmore laments, "I dont know why they kick me. I'm sure I'm nobody!"
In the lower left corner, the feet of abolitionist editor Horace Greeley protrude from the water. In the center, Lewis Cass fires a pistol at Daniel Webster, whose rump, labeled "Chowder" for his New England background, is just disappearing into the water. "Ah what glorious sport," cries Cass, taunting Webster about his diplomatic record, "how now Webster! backing down on guano. fishing for Cod! eh! feel dry! take mine warm. want any powder, give you some ball!"
A man to the right of Cass prods at a floating body with a bayonet. Another man, further right, has just forced an unidentified Whig into the water, saying, "There's nothing like water to wash out Stains!"
The comic characterizations and style of draftsmanship are unquestionably John L. Magee's, comparing closely with signed works such as "The Game Cock and the Goose" and "A Magnificent Offer to a Magnificent Officer" (nos. 1852-18 and 1852-27).