<Go back to the Topics Index results>

THE MEETING at SARATOGA. "Like Boxers thus before the fight, their hands in friendship they unite."
Complete Explanation:
The second of two prints by "HD" portraying scenes from President Van Buren's visit to the resort at Saratoga Springs, New York, during the summer of 1839. (See also "The Cut Direct," no. 1839-3.) The satire comments favorably on Whig presidential hopeful Senator Henry Clay's successful precampaign tour of New York State that summer.

In a ballroom Clay is greeted by Martin Van Buren, who says, "Mr. Clay you are welcome to the Empire state, I am quite rejoiced to see you so popular among the good people." Clay responds, "I thank you Mr. President for this cordial reception it is a proud and noble state and when thrown upon her own energies and resources uninjured by experiments she will be first in grandure and prosperity as she is the first in population & patriotism."

Clay's reference to "experiments" may allude to Van Buren's proposed independent treasury program, whereby federal revenues would be held and paid out not by private banks or a federal treasury but by the collecting agencies or local "sub-treasuries." This concept was linked in opposition rhetoric to former President Andrew Jackson's "experiment" in decentralizing the federal treasury through abolishing the Bank of the United States and distributing funds among state banks.

At left New York Democratic Senator Nathaniel P. Tallmadge and Gen. Winfield Scott converse. Scott observes that "the great men are quite cordial" and that Clay's reception was "very chee[r]ing." Tallmadge, an opponent of Van Buren's fiscal program, responds that Clay "deserves all that the people can do for him . . ." The men in the background are unshaven and wear extremely long locks. One remarks, "A cool thousand that I will never shave again--I may be shaved but thats fashionable dem me." Some of Henry Clay's supporters would not shave or cut their hair until Clay won the presidency.

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