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Complete Explanation:
During the 1864 presidential campaign a popular analogy was drawn between Democratic presidential candidate George B. McClellan and an acrobat uneasily straddling two horses at once. The artist here portrays the McClellan candidacy as trying to combine two seemingly irreconcilable causes, peace and war. In a circus ring McClellan stretches between horses marked "Letter of Acceptance" and "Chicago Platform." In Chicago on August 29, 1864, McClellan was nominated the Democratic candidate on a peace platform. In his letter of acceptance, however, the candidate expressed his support for the war. At left his running mate George H. Pendleton, wearing a dunce cap "PEACE!," eggs him on, saying, "I "say" Mac! Can't you hold on to "both" 'till the 8th of Nov.? [i.e., election day]"

In the background a huge audience watches the spectacle. Among the instruments in the band is a drum inscribed "N.Y. World," one of McClellan's most vocal supporters.

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