<Go back to the People Index results>


MATTY TAKING HIS SECOND BATH IN SALT RIVER.
   
Complete Explanation:
A satire published before the Democratic convention, predicting would-be presidential nominee Martin Van Buren's second "bath in Salt River" (the first one being his unsuccessful bid for reelection in 1840).

On the left bank of "Salt River," a colloquialism for political failure or misfortune, Whigs Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and two unidentified men combine strength to pull a fox with Van Buren's head from the opposite bank and into the water. The "Kinderhook fox," as Van Buren was known, loses his footing. He has been supported by (left to right) incumbent President John Tyler, Tyler's son Robert, Senator Thomas Hart Benton, and an unidentified fourth man. Tyler has had ahold of the fox's tail, which has just come off in his hands, and all collapse in a heap.

Clay taunts Van Buren, "Walk up, Matty this is only the Sober second thought of the people." "Sober second thoughts" was a catch-phrase in the 1840 campaign, referring to Van Buren's desertion by working-class supporters. (See "Sober Second Thoughts," no. 1838-15).

Van Buren pleads with Tyler, "Hold on, hard, Tyler: for I have been so deep in Salt River once that I shiver at the thought of another sousing."

Tyler: "Oh! cursed luck! There is nothing left me but your tail! Is this the way you reward your devoted friends? I wish you had kept it!"

Robert Tyler (a poet): "No matter, father, I'll use them up in a poem of 50 Cantos."

Benton, as "Mint Drops" (i.e., gold coins, symbolizing his bullionist monetary stance) fall from his pocket, brandishes a quill pen, saying, "If I must fall, preserve this sacred pen which expunged the villainous Clause." The expunging quill was a memento of Benton's successful campaign to strike the Senate's 1834 censure of Andrew Jackson from the congressional record.

Standing on a bank at the lower right, waving his cane, Democratic patriarch Andrew Jackson exclaims, "By the Eternal! They have forsaken Matty "in his extremity." I always prophesied that Tyler would not stick to him "in the end!"" His comment sums up the message of the cartoon, which is that Van Buren's campaign was hampered by erosion of his traditional Democratic support and internal divisions within the party ranks during the spring of 1844.


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