The artist foresees a Democratic defeat in the 1844 presidential election. Party figures Martin Van Buren, Thomas Hart Benton, vice-presidential candidate George M. Dallas, Andrew Jackson, and presidential nominee James K. Polk are in a dinghy towed by the "Steamer Ballot Box" up Salt River toward political defeat. The bow of the dinghy is adorned with the head of presidential incumbent John Tyler. On a staff on the steamer's stern is mounted a large cabbage, a symbol which during the 1840 election campaign represented Whig hopes of retiring Van Buren to his home at Kinderhook "to raise cabbages."
Here Van Buren has the body of a fox and Polk that of a long-necked bird, perhaps a goose or a crane.
Van Buren: "I never sailed so far up this river before. We must be near the head of navigation."
Polk, standing on the stern of the boat: "We've got up so far that the water grows shallow. I think I could get out & wade now."
Jackson exclaims: "By the eternal! Polk don't give up the "ship.""