In July 1790 Congress decided to move the seat of the federal government from its original site in New York to Washington, with Philadelphia as an interim capital. The unidentified satirist gives a cynical view of the profit opportunity which this presented for Philadelphians.
A three-masted ship with a smaller boat in tow sails toward a fork in a river. It is being lured by a devil toward the lower fork (eventually leading to Philadelphia), which falls precipitously in a rocky cataract, and away from the fork which leads to the "Potowmack" river. A devil beckons them on, saying, "This way Bobby" (referring to Robert Morris, the alleged instigator of the move).
A man in the bow of the ship remarks of the figurehead, "This looks more like a goose than an eagle's head." Behind him another says through a bullhorn, "Starboard your helm Coffer-- don't you hear your friend on the Rock." Another passenger waves a hat and shouts "Huzza for Philadelphia." A man (possibly Morris) holding the helm says, "I will venture all for Philadelphia." In the boat in tow the following conversation is in progress:
"Cut the Painter [tow line] as soon as you see the Ship in danger."
"I wonder what could have induced the Controller to sign our Clearance."
"Self gratification I suppose for it cannot be any advantage to the owner."
"If they had come round in the S. Union the constitution would not have been lost."
"They might have known that the Ship would have been in danger by comeing this way."
"Ay, Ay, I had best do it [cut the rope] now for I believe she is going to the devil."
Below the falls, three men in a dinghy say, "If we can catch the cargo never mind the Ship," "Keep a sharp look out for a mijority and the treasury," and "Ay, Ay that's what we are after."