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Complete Explanation:
The print's title derives from the name of Hinton Rowan Helper's 1857 pamphlet "The Impending Crisis," an influential document in antislavery literature. Here the crisis is that of New York senator William H. Seward, whose recent loss of the Republican presidential nomination to Abraham Lincoln was widely attributed to the machinations of New York "Tribune" editor Horace Greeley. Seward flounders in the water at the end of a pier, crying, "Oh I'm going down for the "last time." He holds aloft "Greelys Letter." Henry J. Raymond, founder of the "New York Daily News" and an ardent Republican, grabs Greeley by the collar, accusing him, "Ah, ha my fine fellow! I've caught you! You pushed him over for revenge."

Greeley pleads, "Oh no Sir I didn't, he went too near the edge and fell off." "Courier & Enquirer" editor James Watson Webb (appearing at left, as a newsboy) exclaims, "Take him in Officer he "did" push him off. I saw him do it." Webb carries a copy of his own newspaper, inscribed with the motto "Principles not men," which may allude to Webb's recent abandonment of the Whig party for the Republicans. (For another reference to Webb's partisan realignment, see "The Political Gymnasium," no. 1860-34.)

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