The title plays on Franklin Pierce's last name, at the expense of Whig presidential hopefuls Millard Fillmore, Winfield Scott, and Daniel Webster. The print was probably published shortly after the June 1852 Whig national convention, judging from the reference to Scott's nomination. The artist is critical of the Whig party's preference for military heroes as candidates, as manifested by their selection of Scott over his civilian rivals.
In the center is Scott, flanked by Fillmore and Webster, balancing an empty plate of oyster soup on his head. He stands on the wooden floor of the "Whig Platform [of] Soup Fuss And Feathers." Scott's excessive concern with image and decorum earned him the nickname "Old Fuss and Feathers;" for Scott's early offhanded reference to a "hasty plate of soup," which clung to him throughout his public life, see "Distinguished Military Operations . . ." (no. 1846-15).
He holds out empty oyster shells to the two disappointed candidates, saying: "My dear fellows you neither of you got the oyster because you couldn't agree and you have never smelt powder.--The whig party is essentually chivalric, and they must have a military man at their head, and, of course, chose me--To be sure Harrison was a granny, and so was Taylor, but I am a Granny dear [i.e., grenadier]! I present you each a shell as as a proof of my regard!--But hulloh! where's the oyster? Was it a vision!"
Pierce stands at the far left, on the raised "Democratic Platform [of] The Constitution And The Union," displaying the meat of an oyster labeled "President U. S. A." He addresses Scott: "You will have to go without your soup this time General I've go the Oyster by sleight of hand, and a good fat one it is, a real old Blue pointer. I shall pickle it and keep it for four years!"
Fillmore (left) exclaims, "A shell without a fish! how selfish! what a scaly trick."
Webster, standing alone at far right, offers a melancholy soliloquy: "Farewell! a long farewell to all my greatness! This is the state of man.---To-day he puts forth the tender leaves of hope, tomorrow blossoms and bears his blushing honors thick upon him--The next day comes a frost a killing frost, and when he thinks, good easy man, full surely his greatness is ripening, nips his root & then he falls as I do!"