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RACE BETWEEN BENNETT AND GREELY FOR THE POST OFFICE STAKES.
   
Complete Explanation:
A satire on the competition between rival editors Horace Greeley and James Gordon Bennett for New York post office printing contracts. The artist also comments on the circulation wars between Bennett's "New York Herald" and Greeley's relatively new paper the "Tribune, "and on latter's editorial support of abolition.

Clay shows Greeley (at left) outdistanced by James Gordon Bennett, who rides a black steed with a pouch marked "Black Mail." The pouch may be a reference to some aspect of Bennett's scandal-mongering journalism or to accusations of extortion made against Bennett by British lecturer Silk Buckingham in 1843. Greeley wears his characteristic frock coat, stove-pipe hat, knee-breeches, and boots. The Scottish-born Bennett wears a tam o'shanter, tartan sash, and kilt. The artist exaggerates his cross-eyed squint.

Greeley laments, "I'm afraid my two hundred dollars is lost, as well as the Post Office printing!" In December 1842, Greeley was sued for libel by novelist James Fenimore Cooper. In the trial, reported in detail in the "Tribune," the plaintiff was awarded a judgment of {dollar}200 against Greeley.

Bennett exclaims, "I shall distance the Squash [i.e., Greeley] if he don't pull foot!"

Both men race toward the New York Post Office, in front of which stands a man in a hat and long coat--probably the postmaster. The man says, "The largest circulation gets it!" At the left stand two black men, one with a paper marked "Emancipation" in his pocket, the other holding a copy of the "Tribune." The first says, "Brother Greely rideth like one possessed! He reminds me of Death on a pale Horse!" The second, "My presumption is dat de debil himself helps dat dam Bennett!" The essentially racist portrayal of the two blacks is reminiscent of Clay's much earlier "Life in Philadelphia" series. (See Munsing, pp. 28-29.)

Davison dates the print about 1841. The first issue of Greeley's newspaper appeared in April of that year. The editor's reference to his {dollar}200 loss, however, suggests that Clay's drawing did not appear until after the Cooper lawsuit of December 1842.


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