The erosion of Democratic support for presidential hopeful Martin Van Buren is portrayed as the funeral of "the Kinderhook fox." The print was deposited for copyright on May 22, 1844, one week before the Democratic National Convention squelched Van Buren's presidential ambitions by nominating James K. Polk. Former president Andrew Jackson and incumbent John Tyler, both of whom appear here, were instrumental in bringing about Van Buren's defeat.
Tyler drives a rude hearse--actually a cart--laden with cabbages and the body of fox Van Buren. By Tyler's side are a bag of "Mint drops," a reference to traditional, hard-money fiscal policies of the Democrats. Tyler laments, "Thus do all our hopes end in Clay! Nothing left for me now but hoe-Cakes." His reference to "Clay" is a double entendre for Whig candidate Henry Clay; mention of "Hoe-cakes" may be an allusion to Tyler's Virginia origins. Tyler's poet son Robert rides on the back of the hearse, penning his 1842 epic "Ahasuerus" and musing, "To be or not to by[?] is no longer the question."
The cart is pulled by a scrawny nag with Andrew Jackson's head. Jackson says, "I have done my best to bring Foxy here! I have nothing more to do but to see him decently interred." Behind the cart walks a devil, sobbing, "Oh! heavy day! I am his only mourner. I am the only friend that will never leave him. Death itself shall not divide us!" He is followed by a heavyset man in a wide-brimmed hat ringing a bell and crying "Bring out your dead!" Several dogs also pursue the hearse.
In the background is "Loco Foco Hall," a small cabin with bottles of spirits lining its window-shelves and flying an inverted American flag. A fox pelt is nailed to an outside wall, and an emaciated man stands in the doorway. The Loco Focos, or radical Democrats, were an important Van Buren constituency.
Beyond, on the right, is a grave freshly dug by two blacks who stand nearby. One of the gravediggers says, "Here he comes, Pompey, we'll have this Fox earthed at last!"
Beneath the scene are the verses:
Not a drum was heard nor a funeral note
As his corse to the ramparts we hurried
Not a Loco discharged his farewell shot
O'er the ditch where our hero we buried.