A mild parody on the strife and corruption within the New York Democratic party. In 1876 Tammany leader "Honest John" Kelly used his power over rank-and-file Democrats to oppose New York governor Samuel Tilden's bid for the party's presidential nomination at its national convention in St. Louis.
Here an impenetrable cloud of smoke has been raised by a melee between the factions. Working-class Tammany Democrats (left) and Tildenites (right) are identified by their shoes below and weapons above. The former wear heavy work shoes and firemen's boots and wield clubs, bottles, and broken furniture. The Tildenites, in contrast, wear finer shoes and are armed with umbrellas, canes, and pistols. The "Law" is trampled by Tammany feet, an allusion to the corruption associated with the society's control of New York government. One of the gentlemen's feet treads on the "Rules of Order."
Also on the ground are dice, cards, a liquor bottle, and a spilled bottle of ink.