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Complete Explanation:
Whig presidential candidate Winfield Scott and his party pursue an abolitionist course leading toward Salt River and political doom. New York senator and antislavery advocate William Seward appears as a poodle which leads the blindfolded Scott and his entourage of three asses with the heads of prominent abolitionists David Wilmot, Joshua Reed Giddings, and Horace Greeley. They pass a signpost pointing toward Salt River (ahead) and Washington (in the opposite direction).

Seward: "Place the utmost confidence in me gentlemen asses . . . for when was I ever known to betray those with whom I was associated!" Scott: "It seems to me that I scent a strange saltness in the air!"

Wilmot carries a "Free Soil" burden and is ridden by a black man. The slave exclaims, "Whew Massa Scott! up here you can see de riber shining in de sun!" Ass Giddings bears a sack marked "Abolition," while behind him Greeley carries a load marked "Higher Law."

Greeley complains, "Here I am again upon my winding way. I would be glad to get off on my own hook, but this is my only chance for office, and I should like to get hold of another short term."

A man on a hill in the background points toward Washington, exclaiming, "Ho there! Ho there! yonder lies your course! you're going astray! They are deaf as a post, or a set of obstinate jack asses!" (Under the man's feet the name "Seward" was inscribed but later obliterated.)

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