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Current Print >> 25 of 79:  1836

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The heads of two great nations have at last come to the situation of the two goats in the fable . . .

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A pro-Jackson commentary on the confrontation between the United States and France over reparations due the U.S. under the Treaty of 1831 (See "Spirit of the Times" no. 1836-4). The situation reached crisis intensity in 1836 when France refused payment pending an apology for remarks purportedly offensive to that nation in a Jackson speech the previous December. The print was deposited for copyright on January 25, ten days after Jackson's Special Message to Congress, wherein he suggested preparation for hostilities in the event that payment was not forthcoming. The cartoon spoofs the bellicose climate generated in part by American and French presses before spoliation payments were begun in May, and to the rivalry between New York newspapers the "Morning Courier and New York Enquirer," the "Sun," and the "Herald."

The print is based on a fable by Jean de la Fontaine ("Fables de la Fontaine" Livre XII, Fable 4), about two she-goats who confront each other on a plank high above a river. Each is too proud to make way for the other, and hence both end up falling into the river. Similarly, two goats with the heads of French king Louis Philippe (left) and Andrew Jackson (right) meet on a plank bridging a channel. The Jackson goat says "By the 8th of January I shall not go back." Louis Philippe responds "Nor I by the 3d day of July." (January 8 is the anniversary of Jackson's famous victory at the Battle of New Orleans.) Below them John Bull waves his hat and says, "Go it my Harties fifty to one on Brother Jonathan, Some one will profit by this. I don't say who!" On the left the Gallic cock stands on a bale with the words "La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure" (loosely translated: "Might makes right"). He crows that "Orleans has been his [Jackson's] rise, Orleans will be his Fall," alluding to Jackson's famous victory at the Battle of New Orleans, and the French royal family, the house of Orleans. On the right is an American eagle with thunderbolts in his talons.

In the lower half of the print editors of three French journals, "La Quotidienne, Le Constitutionel" and "Les Debats," shout taunts like "Go on! Go on! Vive la gloire!!" and "Might makes Right" across a small body of water at American editor James Watson Webb, on the right. Webb sits on a bale of saltpetre cheering Jackson and waving a "Bennett Bludgeon" club. The saltpetre symbolizes Webb's aggressive stance on enforcement of the spoliation claims; the bludgeon his well-publicized beating of James Gordon Bennett, editor of the rival New York "Herald," in January 1836. From Webb's pocket a boy surreptitiously removes a copy of Jackson's "Special Message" saying "The "Sun" shines for all," perhaps a reference to the New York "Sun's "non-partisan editorial policy.

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Current Print >> 25 of 79:  1836

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