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THE CANDIDATE OF MANY PARTIES. A Phrenological Examination to Ascertain What His Political Principles Are.
Complete Explanation:
Whig nominee Zachary Taylor's reluctance to clearly declare his political views was an issue eagerly exploited by the opposition in the 1848 campaign. Here the artist shows phrenologist Orson S. Fowler probing the candidate's skull to determine his "principles," as New York "Tribune" editor Horace Greeley (left) takes notes. Greeley asks, "What for a Prsident would he make?" Fowler replies, "he says he is 'Incompetent,' & so say his developments."

Taylor (center) sits grumbling, "When I get to Washington I will turn [Postmaster General] Cave Johnson out, and put a good Military man in his place, This paying 7.50 for "dead letters," is too much for me to stand." Beginning in late July the "dead letter" issue was a source of great popular amusement at Taylor's expense. After Taylor's nomination in early June, he was sent a letter by John Morehead offering him the candidacy. In an economizing move, Taylor had recently instructed the local postmaster in Baton Rouge not to forward to him any letters on which postage was not prepaid. Consequently, Morehead's notification of nomination was among the mail that landed in the dead letter office in Washington, and after several weeks cost Taylor {dollar}7.50 to have retrieved.

Among the long list of Taylor's characteristics that Greeley and Fowler have compiled are: "A Quick Fiery Temper," "A lack of self respect," and "Disregard for things Sacred." Each of these falls under a broader category, such as "Combativeness," which is accompanied by a number designating its degree of "development." The number six indicates an ideal level of development, anything lower being deficient. Seven, the highest possible score, was excessive. Here Taylor scores a seven in "Combativeness," but only receives a one for "Self Esteem." In "Firmness" he receives a fourteen, making him remarkably "Obstinate & Mulish."

Shelved on the back wall at right are specimens of heads and skulls, including those of Martin Van Buren, James Watson Webb, Henry Clay, and a black man. Posted on the left is a sign advertising "Fowler & Wells. Phrenologists, 131 Nassau St. Clinton Hall, N. York."

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