An anti-British satire, reflecting American enragement at Britain's tightening of restrictions on territorial waters open to American fishermen off the coast of Canada. In July 1852, England notified the United States of its intention, contrary to previous understandings, to curtail American fishing within a three-mile limit of the Canadian provinces, and to close off the Gulf of St. Lawrence and much of the Bay of Fundy altogether. This threat to their fishing industry was particularly alarming to Americans in the northeastern United States.
Clay's cartoon features a stout figure of John Bull (center) draped with lines of fish, confronted by Brother Jonathan near the home of an unemployed fisherman. Jonathan holds out a document "Treaty of Ghent. Right of fishing in the Bay of Fundy" toward John Bull, and snarls, "Why consarn you, you tarnal old critter, looke'e here, you wont deny your own hand writin will you--And haven't we been fishin in the Bay for thirty years without any muss--I want to know--Du tell?" John Bull replies, "Don't talk to me about treaties and rights! When did I ever keep a treaty when it suited me to break it? and as to other peoples rights, they may look out for themselves, I can take care of my own!"
To the right of John Bull stand a gentleman and frontiersman. The gentleman holds his nose, commenting on the Englishman's scent, "A very ancient and fish like smell! About as musty as his claim for the Navigation of the Mississippi:" The frontiersman wears buckskins and a coonskin cap, and holds a long rifle. He expounds, "May I be kicked to death by grasshoppers if he aint the greediest old shark I ever saw. By the Eternal! as the old General [i.e., Andrew Jackson] used to say, he'll want another New-Orleans lesson!"
On the left, a sailor sits forlorn near the door to his cottage, his wife and child consoling him. His nets are hung out. He laments, "There goes my poor old fishing smack; taken by that d--d Britisher--All I can do, Sally, is to go on board a man [of] war, and pay them back in bullets!" Beyond, two ships sail on the water.