<Go back to the Topics Index results>

Complete Explanation:
The Library also has a redrawn version of the print with the text in German, "The Democratische Plattform," where the dialogue is simplified and the Pierce figure is identified as "Bully [i.e., Preston S.] Brooks," and Uncle Sam replaced by a Dutchman.

Again the 1856 Democrats are characterized as friendly to proslavery interests. Old guard Democrats Martin Van Buren and Thomas Hart Benton are also resurrected for abuse here.

Van Buren appears as a fox, lurking in a cave at right. His son John is one of three men supporting a supine James Buchanan. The Democratic presidential nominee lies across the backs of the three crouching figures (left to right) Thomas Hart Benton (identified as "Old Bullion"), Franklin Pierce ("Franklin the last"), and "Prince" John Van Buren. They converse:

Pierce to Benton: "Colonel, how is it that you're so down on my Administration and yet support this platform?"

Benton: "Sir this Platform is Mr. Buchanan, I support the man. Men, not principles, is my motto." (This is a reversal of the Democratic motto: "Principles, not men.")

Martin Van Buren: "Never mind what we did in '48 Johnny a change of policy now & then, benefits the political System as you will see in the case of the great "Federal" Democrat you are now supporting; and then our party are so forgiving for the Sake of the Spoils." The "Federal Democrat" referred to is Buchanan, who was viewed as an opportunist because of his 1828 conversion from Federalist to Democrat. Van Buren lost the 1848 presidential election to Republican Zachary Taylor because the Democratic party was evenly split between Hunkers and Barnburners.

John Van Buren: "Certainly Dad. that's the fruit of the Great Democratic principle 'Every man for himself & plunder for us all.'"

Buchanan declares: "I am no longer James Buchanan but the Platform of my party." Seated on his stomach is a slave owner armed with a whip, several knives, and a pistol. A black youth (his slave) sits on Buchanan's legs. Addressing the slave owner from the left is Brother Jonathan or Uncle Sam, dressed in waistcoat, striped trousers, and tall hat. He warns, "Mister Fire Eater I wouldn't rely too much on the supporters of that Platform; they are liable to give way at any moment." The southerner's response: "I dont care anything about the Supporters of the platform as long as the platform supports me and my Nigger."

Website design © 2010 HarpWeek, LLC
All Content © 1998-2010 HarpWeek, LLC
Please submit questions to webmaster@harpweek.com