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Complete Explanation:
A satire on the Barnburners, a radical faction of New York State Democrats, led by John Van Buren, whose commitment to social and monetary reforms was likened to a farmer's burning his barn to rid it of rats. Here the barn is ablaze, trapping several of the movement's leaders on its roof. Benjamin F. Butler, raising his arms, vows, "If I ever get out of this scrape safe it's the last act of Barn burning that I'll be guilty of." New York "Evening Post" editor and radical spokesman William Cullen Bryant despairs, "Woe is me! I can't get off, and if I stay up here it's sure destruction!" An unidentified man says, "Alas! alas! we're caught in a tight fix." At right John Van Buren vainly tries to raise a ladder to the roof, complaining, "I can't get near enough to help them down with the ladder, so old Dad you'd better jump off." His father, Martin Van Buren, appearing here as a fox, leaps from the other end of the roof, saying, "Our sufferings is intolerable! I'll take your advice my son and jump off--So here goes!"

On the far right New Hampshire Democrat Franklin Pierce has mired his wagon in a muddy lane. It is loaded with boxes "Free Trade" and "No Internal Improvements," traditional Democratic planks. Pierce calls to Bryant, "there's more truth than poetry in what you say. We never needed your help more, for we are stuck in the mud and want your shoulder to the wheel."

Although Weitenkampf tentatively dates the cartoon 1847, the inclusion of Franklin Pierce suggests a later date. The work apparently relates to the regular Democrats' 1852 solicitation of Barnburner support for Pierce, who was their presidential candidate that year.

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