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Complete Explanation:
A somewhat tongue-in-cheek dramatization of the moment during the heated debate in the Senate over the admission of California as a free state when Mississippi senator Henry S. Foote drew a pistol on Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. In the cartoon Benton (center) throws open his coat and defiantly states, "Get out of the way, and let the assassin fire! let the scoundrel use his weapon! I have no arm's! I did not come here to assassinate!" He is attended by two men, one of them North Carolina senator Willie P. Mangum (on the left). Foote, restrained from behind by South Carolina's Andrew Pickens Butler and calmed by Daniel Stevens Dickinson of New York (to whom he later handed over the pistol), still aims his weapon at Benton saying, "I only meant to defend myself!"

In the background Vice President Fillmore, presiding, wields his gavel and calls for order. Behind Foote another senator cries, "For God's sake Gentlemen Order!"

To the right of Benton stand Henry Clay and (far right) Daniel Webster. Clay puns, "It's a ridiculous matter, I apprehend there is no danger on foot!" Visitors in the galleries flee in panic.

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