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Complete Explanation:
Reflecting Whig preelection confidence in the campaign of 1844, the artist portrays that party's ascendancy over the Democrats in the race for the presidency. Bucholzer uses the metaphor of a hot-air balloon race between Whig candidates Henry Clay and Theodore Frelinghuysen (on the right) and Democratic nominee James K. Polk. The Whigs ascend with ease; Clay waves a flag and Frelinghuysen points toward the "Presidential Chair" which appears at left on a bed of clouds. The Democratic balloon fails to rise for lack of gas and is prodded with a cane by Andrew Jackson. Jackson says, "I'll use my best endeavours to "poke" [i.e., "Polk"] it up. But it's harder work than gaining the battle of New Orleans!"

In the balloon's carriage (actually a wooden tub) are Polk, a Loco Foco Democrat (looking upward through a telescope), and a bag of "Mint drops" (symbolizing the hard-money policies pursued by the Democrats). The carriage is supported by party stalwarts Thomas Hart Benton and John C. Calhoun.

Polk says: "I think my friends have placed me in a very ridiculous position! They set me up here only to "poke" fun at me."

Calhoun warns: "Push hard, Benton, or they'll never get any higher."

Benton: "I'm afraid they'll have to throw the mint drops overboard!"

From above, Clay offers: "Throw us a line, Polk, and we'll give you a tow!"

Meanwhile, in the background a fox with the head of Martin van Buren slinks away saying, "If you had had the wit to put me in there, it would have gone up." He voices his disappointment at not being chosen Democratic nominee.

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