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Complete Explanation:
A caustic portrayal of the abolitionist Whigs' manipulation of Winfield Scott during the 1852 campaign. Influential Whigs (left to right) New York "Times" editor Henry J. Raymond, "Tribune" editor Horace Greeley, and New York senator William Seward escort Scott across Salt River via the "Baltimore Bridge." The bridge is composed of eight planks, representing the eight parts of the Whig platform as adopted at their June national convention in Baltimore. With Seward on his shoulders, Scott steps carefully across the bridge, carefully avoiding stepping on plank number eight, which reads "The series of acts of the Thirty-first Congress, commonly known as the compromise or adjustment, (the act of the recovery of fugitive from labor included) are received and acquiesced in by the Whigs of the United States, as a final settlement in principel and substance of the subjects to which they relate." The plank was an endorsement of the Compromise of 1850.

Seward, who opposed the compromise, covers Scott's mouth with his hand, saying, "General, I have been trying to get safely over this Stream for some time, and your Shoulders, are broad enough to bear me; never mind your tongue or your pen I'll manage them, but look well to your footsteps as this particular spot, it takes a pretty long Stride but stretch your legs, as I do my Con-science,--and you can get over anything."

Greeley, another vociferous abolitionist, follows behind carrying a tureen of "Free Soil Soup" and Scott's heavily plumed hat. He adds, "That's the talk Bill! you take care of his mouth, and his fingers, & I{grave}ll look out for the, feathers, and soup, perhaps you had better Stop and let him have a 'hasty plate' of it, as I have seasoned it highly with "black" pepper, to suit our taste, & we can give him a mouthful of Graham bread when he gets through." The "hasty plate of soup" was a lingering joke at Scott's expense dating from the general's Mexican War career. (See "Distinguished Military Operations," no. 1846-15.) "Black" pepper is a racist allusion, while "graham bread" was actually a well-known dietary preference of Greeley's.

Raymond trails behind Greeley, carrying a copy of the New York "Times" and a document marked "Telegraphic Dispatches." He marvels, "Well I declare! Seward will get the old joker across after all; since he had that severe attack of the Botts, I thought he would never go over Safe." Virginia Whig John Minor Botts caused a stir at the convention by reading a letter from Scott wherein, for the first time, he endorsed the compromise.

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