"Salt River," the fictitious river of political doom, is charted here as a meandering stream of Democratic misfortunes. The chart was purportedly "prepared by Father Ritchie," i.e., Democratic editor and Polk administration spokesman Thomas Ritchie. Swipes are taken at the Tariff of 1846, Polk's Vice President George M. Dallas, Martin Van Buren, and 1848 Democratic presidential nominee Lewis Cass.
The river winds upward from the Ohio River (Ohio was a Democratic stronghold in 1848) to the Lake of Oblivion with an island on which sits the "Mansion of Despair." The "Fast Sailing Steamer Free Trade," captained by Lewis Cass and piloted by Ritchie, sets out on the "Slough of Despond" below (one of the landmarks in John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress&1). The ship approaches a fork, from which the "Old Fox Branch" on the right leads to "Cabbage Point" and the home of Martin Van Buren. Van Buren can be seen sitting in a rowboat on the river complaining, "Hard work this all; your fault 'John,' with your D--d Free Trade." His son John, a Free Soil party leader and campaigner, encouraged Van Buren's bid for the party's presidential nomination in 1848.
On the left Salt River continues past the "Sub Treasury Bluffs," "Noise and Confusion Shoals," "Two Face Points," and "Irish Relief Shoal" (a reference to Democratic support for anti-British insurgents in Ireland), to another fork, "Prince John's Creek." Here John Van Buren walks along the shore and calls, "Good bye Dad! We could not Gull the People."
The main branch of the river continues to "Pillow's Cemetery" (named after Gen. Gideon Pillow, conspirator against popular Mexican War commander Winfield Scott and a friend of James K. Polk), "One Seal Island" (?), "Casting Vote Point," and "St Anna Pass." The last is named after Mexican president and commander Santa Anna, whom the Polk administration returned from exile only to see him lead the war against the Americans.
On Lake Oblivion is a small ferry boat heads toward the shore at upper right where it will connect with a train named "Tariff [of 18]42," bound for Washington. On the left is a funerary monument "In Memory of Dallas," a memorial to Vice President and former Pennsylvania senator George M. Dallas. Many of Dallas's fellow Pennsylvanians viewed him as a traitor to the state's interests in his support of the Tariff of 1846, which supplanted the popular 1842 tariff.