A mild reproof of Zachary Taylor's evasion of the slavery question in the campaign of 1848. Although Taylor's views were widely broadcast in the form of published letters, his stand on the main issue--the Wilmot Proviso--remained unexpressed. (The Wilmot Proviso would have banned slavery in U.S. territories acquired during the Mexican War.)
Here, in a clearing with the Capitol in the distance, Taylor is confronted by a country dweller and an urban dandy. The clearing stands between a forest on the left and a grove of cane on the right at which a black man, a stereotype like the others, cuts with a long knife. The rustic (far left) holds a shotgun or rifle and has a clay pipe between his teeth. In contrast, the city gentleman is finely dressed and holds a small cane. Taylor (center) wears a uniform and holds a walking stick or baton, and is flanked by two dogs (probably bloodhounds, reminders of his controversial use of dogs against the Indians in Florida during the Second Seminole War). The Wilmot Proviso lies on the ground before him.
Country: "Now then General, in one word, What er yer Principles? for d'ye see, if yer devoid o priciple, yer aint fit to govern this great Nation, not by a darn'd long chalk."
Town: "Why-aw! yes Genl? demme! we must know your princi- ples before we vote. we must indeed, aw!--demme!"
Taylor: "Confound you both, Read my last Letter!"
Country: "It's darn easy to read Genl. but rather difficult to to understand--I guess."
To the right of Taylor a black man cutting cane remarks of Taylor, "He! He! He dam cunning, he wants to get in fust. he keep dark on de Wilmot Provis till de beery last. de dam ole Fox."