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GOVERNORS RACE in NEW JERSEY. Young Hyson riding over the backs of the people. Stratton going ahead in the popular Jersey Style.
Complete Explanation:
A satire on the New Jersey gubernatorial campaign of 1844, centering on a major issue of the race--extension of the Camden and Amboy Railroad. The Whig candidate, New Jersey native Charles C. Stratton, campaigned on a platform opposing the powerful railroad interests of the state. The Democratic candidate, Pennsylvania-born John R. Thomson, was a stockholder in the railroad and a vigorous advocate of internal improvements. The artist portrays Thomson as a reckless pawn of "young Hyson" (possibly a railroad magnate?) and the railroad as a burden on the people of the state.

Thomson (here "Thompson") rides a steam train along a stretch of track laid over the backs of the people. The track ahead is unfinished--a fact noted by a man on the locomotive's front platform. Heedless of this, Captain Thomson stands atop one of the cars waving a militia cap (a symbol of his Jacksonian alignment) and shouting, "Fire up Green! Fire! I say that devilish Whig brigand Stratton is almost there--Stir up!--Put on the Steam or our man is lost--O my Country! O!!! 'For thee I wave my Sword on high / For thee I live--For thee I die' Go ahead! Burst! I'd sooner smash than not be first."

Whig ally and fellow railroad advocate James S. Green feeds the engine's boiler, complaining, "T'is decreed by my Master, the Captain, that there shall be more Fire--but I fear I never shall be Chancellor."

Another man asks Thomson, "How long shall we go on this tack, Captain? It is almost time to have the Engine reversed." The train pulls "Young Hyson" who rides in an oriental rickshaw-like vehicle.

Ahead is a tall staff flying an American flag and a "Clay and Frelinghuysen" streamer. Further on, Stratton's horse-drawn coach approaches a crowd gathered around a small house. On a hill nearby is a large house with a cupola, possibly the governor's residence. A man in the crowd calls out, "Here they are! Three cheers for Governor Stratton the "Jersey bred Jerseymen."" The coach's driver announces, "We've distanced the Rail Road machinery this time."

In the foreground a farmer at the reins of a simple wooden wagon full of produce calls out to two gentlemen in a stylish coach nearby, "Hurrah for Clay--for Frelinghuysen for Stratton--and for all who go for men of my Condition:

Hurrah I say you men with your men Servants there!" One of the gentlemen says to the other, "Egad my friend, Thompson will find the backs of the people a very unsafe Foundation for a Rail Road. I had rather trust to Stratton's Old Jersey Waggon off yonder." His driver comments ironically, "I have no faith in the common people--they have no respect for rank--Thompson degrades himself by condescending to be their Governor."

The print may have been conceived as part of a series, given that it is marked "No. 4," although no related prints have been recorded.

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