The artist forecasts a Whig electoral victory and dramatizes the politically ruinous effects of Van Buren's fiscal policy and his alignment with Loco Foco forces in New York.
Whig candidate William Henry Harrison comes to the aid of a shipwrecked vessel, the "United States," and its crew of Democrats. Harrison, wearing a sailor's outfit, retrieves editor Francis Preston Blair from the surf with a gaff hook. He stands on a raft made of barrels of "Hard Cider" rowed by Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, and flying a flag "Tippecanoe and Reform." Clinging to the hull of their capsized vessel are (left to right) Levi Woodbury, Thomas Hart Benton, John C. Calhoun, and Martin Van Buren. Only the hands of Amos Kendall remain above the waves. The vessel has run aground on "Distress Rocks" and "Loco Foco Quicksand." A lighthouse "Constitution Light" appears in the background.
Webster: "Dont be losing time Old Tip picking up the worthless crew who have so long mismanaged the vessel, but let us try to get her off the rocks and save her cargo."
Clay: "Aye, Aye, I'll be bound they will take care of themselves unless their pockets are so full that it will sink them."
Harrison: "I have hooked one of the precious crew! Lord bless me what a scare crow."
Woodbury: "I cant hang on much longer! . . . and I cant swim against this current of popular opinion."
Benton (to Woodbury): "It is your infernal Wall Street kite flying and cramming your pocket so full that has capsized us . . . !"
Calhoun (to Van Buren): "You are a d---d pretty lubber to take charge of the helm! I knew you were carrying too much sail for your ballast, and now you have spilt the whole lot of us."
Van Buren: "I wanted to try a experiment and thought I had hard money enough to ballast my subtreasury sails, and that we should have come to a safe anchor in the harbor of public security."