A comic portrayal of the alliance between Free Soil Democrats and Whigs and the more extremist abolitionist Liberty party interests during the election campaign of 1848. The factions joined to form the Free Soil party and nominated a presidential candidate in a convention at Buffalo in August. That union is lampooned here as the wedding of Free Soil presidential candidate Martin Van Buren (center left) and a ragged black woman (center right). Van Buren ally Benjamin F. Butler presides over the "marriage."
Van Buren, reluctant to embrace the aged bride, is shoved forward by antislavery editor Horace Greeley (left), who says, "Go, Matty, and kiss the bride That is an indispensable part of the ceremony." Van Buren's son John (far left, here called "John Van Barnburner") also urges him on, "Walk up, dad. You can hold your breath till the ceremony is over, and after that you can do what you please." Van Buren says, "I find that politics, as well as poverty, make one acquainted with strange bedfellows."
In contrast, the woman beckons with open arms, "Come here, my flower. You is a great stranger, and I want to get acquainted wid you." A black man behind her says of Van Buren, "I nebber hab berry good pinion ob the gemman; but if he ax pardon for all he hab done and said agin us, I will shake hands wid de genman." A black woman (further right) remarks, "Mercy on me! How bashful he is!"
Butler, with arms raised and book in one hand, intones, "Who giveth this man to be married to this woman?"