The artist parodies recent outbreaks of violence in Congress, and offers a pointed comparison between the elevated rhetorical sparring in the Senate and a more physical brand of combat in the House of Representatives.
In the left frame members of the Senate (wearing the togas of Roman senators) watch a bout of swordplay between Alabama Democrat Jeremiah Clemens (here "Clements") and South Carolina Democrat Robert Barnwell Rhett. Clemens lunges blindly at his opponent with his sword while covering his face with a shield marked "Valor." Rhett crouches on the floor beneath his own shield, labeled "Piety."
Prominent among the onlookers is Missouri senator Lewis Cass who comments, "The Gladiator from South Carolina is certainly one of the most 'talented' men in the 'Dodging Line' our Country has produced--it's astonishing what practice enables us to accomplish."
An unidentified senator exclaims, "Admirable! Admirable! what Suppleness and determination. I fearlessly assert that never in this Chamber has the 'Pious Dodge' been better executed."
Another unidentified spectator adds, "Very prettilly done! that dodge was about as neatly executed as anything of the kind I have lately seen."
In the second frame two "Bulley's of the House" (one probably Albert Gallatin Brown) fight before a gallery of spectators. Two spectators stand on a bench exclaiming, "Let them fight it out and dont let your anxiety make you perspire to freely. Here--Boy? go and ge me a glass of Brandy & some Crackers & Cheese. we may as well have a pleasent time of it--I bet a Hundred to one Brown whips his man in three minutes" and "Shame!!--Shame!! Where's the Sergeant at Arms!"