<Go back to the People Index results>


POLITICAL GAME OF BRAG. SHEW OF HANDS.
   
Complete Explanation:
The artist resorts to the familiar metaphor of a card game for the presidential stakes in his rendition of the 1848 contest. The major contenders play a game of "brag" (an early form of poker). Around the table sit six players (left to right): South Carolina senator John Calhoun, Democratic presidential nominee Lewis Cass, Henry Clay, Whig candidate Zachary Taylor, Secretary of State James Buchanan, and President James K. Polk. In the center of the table is the "Presidential Ante."

Displaying three aces, former Mexican War general Taylor exclaims, "Three bullets, Clay! Still at my old trade! whenever bullets are to be met I am sure to have a hand with them!"

Clay, who holds three low cards behind his back, replies, "I tried my old bluffing game with a contented hand & nothing to brag with but a hand full of hearts! I'm not sorry however that old Zach has won!"

Seated to the left Cass laments, "Three braggers, Calhoun, would'n't carry me through!"

Calhoun, looking over Cass's shoulder agrees, "No, Cass, the Ante is too high for you! You'll have to play for smaller Stakes!"

At the far right end of the table, Polk exclaims, "My knave hand, Buchanan, has lost me the game! I may as well slope!"

Buchanan replies, "By Jove! Polk, Old Zack's got the documents! three natties!" The satire probably appeared shortly after the June Whig convention, at which Taylor was nominated over Henry Clay, and before the emergence of strong third-party candidate Martin Van Buren.


Website design 2010 HarpWeek, LLC
All Content 1998-2010 HarpWeek, LLC
Please submit questions to webmaster@harpweek.com