A grand allegory of the reconciliation of North and South through the federal program of Reconstruction. Visionary in its breadth and scale, the work is a remarkable combination of religious and patriotic ideology.
In "Bateman's National Picture" (as the print is termed in an accompanying published key) the government is represented as a colossal pavilion-like structure. It has a broad, flattened dome or canopy, on which is drawn a map of the United States, with a shallow drum with a frieze showing the Senate, House of Representatives, Supreme Court, and cabinet. The drum is supported by two systems of slender columns--the straight, outer ones representing the state governments, and the curved inner ones the people. Atop the dome is an eagle with flag and shield.
The structure is literally undergoing "reconstruction." The bases of the columns of the former Confederate states are being replaced with new ones. The old bases are called "Foundations of Slavery." The new ones represent Justice, Liberty, and Education. Under the watchful supervision of the military, civilians carry the new columns and put them into place.
The scene is teeming with other symbols and figures. The sky is filled with a multitude of faces--American statesman, public figures, and other historical characters (among others, Joan of Arc and John Milton). Daniel Webster and John Calhoun are prominently featured. The aerial host surrounds the figure of Christ, who says, "Do to other as you would have them do to you." Flanking the group are Justice (left) and Liberty (right).
Below, beneath the canopy, representatives of the North are reconciled with their Southern counterparts. Union generals Benjamin Butler and Ulysses S. Grant clasp hands with Confederates P. T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee, respectively, and Horace Greeley embraces Jefferson Davis.
Below in a small vignette two infants--one black and one white--lie sleeping in their baskets. Above them flies an eagle with a streamer reading ""All men are born free and equal."