A satire attributing the dire fiscal straits of the nation to Andrew Jackson's banking policies, with specific reference to recent bank failures in New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia. The artist blames the 1837 panic on Jackson's and later Van Buren's efforts to limit currency and emphasize specie (or coinage) as the circulating medium in the American economy. Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton's role as an ally of the administration and champion of coinage (in the cartoonist's parlance "mint drops") is also attacked.
In an eighteenth-century sickroom scene Uncle Sam, wearing a liberty cap, a stars-and-stripes dressing gown, and moccasins, slumps in a chair. In his hand is a paper reading "Failures / New Orleans $100,000,000. New York $150,000,000. Philadelphia $70,000,000. He is attended by a doctor (Andrew Jackson), an apothecary (Thomas Hart Benton), and a woman (Martin Van Buren).
Jackson (far left): "Uncle Sam , you have been overeating, and Hippocrates says, "all people that overeat should burst."
Benton (holding a syrienge): "Uncle Sam, take some more of my mint drops, and here's an injection of the juice of Humbug that I've prepared for you!"
Van Buren:"It is your over issues Uncle Sam that makes you so sick>"
Uncle Sam: "How the deuce Dr. Hickory can I have been overeating when I am half starved? and as foryour Mint drops and Gold pills, Apothecary Benton, they have tied up my bowels and given me this infermal Grippe...You are to nurse me now Aunt Matty, but I tell you I was once as hearty an old cock as ever lived...."
At left is a bust of George Washington, 'Pater Patriae," whose head lies broken on the floor. At right is an eagle, who says, "I must Fly to Texas, for shall I be starved out here." Outside the window at right Nicholas Biddle arrives, with a trunk of "Post Notes" and "Bonds," and is greeted by Brother Jonathan.
Jonathan: "Oh Docr. Biddle I'm so glad you're come. Uncle Sam's in a darned bad way . . ."
Biddle: "I'll try what I can do . . . & I've sent to Dr. John Bull for his assistance."
The print is dated 1834 by Weitenkampf, but it must have appeared after Van Buren's victory in the 1836 presidential election, given Uncle Sam's remark, "You are to nurse me now Aunt Matty." Nancy Davison's date of 1837 is more credible. Most likely it was issued during the spring of that year, after the collapse of the cotton market and several banks in New Orleans and the subsequent failure of many New York banks in March. In April Nicholas Biddle's Pennsylvania state bank came to the aid of the ailing banking community by buying up considerable numbers of bonds and notes.