Again the theme of corruption in the Van Buren administration, here centering on the President's "Sub-Treasury" or independent treasury program, passed by Congress in July 1840.
A large frigate "United States," rigged with "Sub Treasury Rags" sails, sits at anchor in a cove. From it several men empty barrels of "Treasury grains" into two dinghies. Rowing away in a third dinghy are (left to right) Martin Van Buren, John C. Calhoun, and Thomas Hart Benton. The boat is labeled "M. Von Kinder & Co. Shew Boat Absquabulation."
Van Buren, sitting on the stern of the boat, declares, "I have taken Care of my self Let the People take care of themselves Heaven's for us all!"
Calhoun sings as he rows
I came in your need
To serve you indeed;
My views could scarcely soar higher,
You must be aware, That the Plunder I'll share,
Or I'll prove a staunch Nullifyer.
Benton, also rowing: "I am Bent on Gulling the People to see the "promised" Gold & Silver [cropped] flowing up the Mississippi [cropped]."
On the shore at left a group of people wave and hail William Henry Harrison, who leaves the bank in a boat. "Vox Populi, Vox Dei!" they cry, "Hurra Old Tip. / Dont Give up the Ship." In the background left is a log cabin, a fence, and a ploughman in a field.
Though unsigned "The Little Magician" is no doubt the work of Philadelphia printmaker/satirist James Akin. In the peculiar handling of the figures and crowded composition it compares closely to his "The Massachusetts Hoar Outwitted" (no. 1845-6) and "Crib of Wolf Meat" (Quimby, no. 58). It also exhibits Akin's distinctive lettering and bordering style. "The Little Magician" is not listed in Quimby's checklist of Akin's work.