New York: Peter Smith [N. Currier], 1848. Lithograph folio illustrated broadside, oblong 13-5/8" x 18-5/8." Minor dusting. Handwritten depository notice at blank bottom margin; small stamp reading "Microfilmed" is near the blank bottom right corner. Prior matting remnants on blank verso, light crease laid down. The image and text are clear and bold. Very Good.
The broadside illustrates an important political event: the beginnings of the Democratic Party's splintering over the issue of Slavery. Former Democratic President Martin Van Buren, running for President in 1848 as a Free Soil candidate, failed to bridge the gap between his erstwhile Democratic allies and his new "Whig-Abolition" friends. For this failure he is about to take a spill into Salt River. "Salt River" is 19th century American slang: a losing candidate for office was taking a trip "up Salt River." Tickets for passage "up Salt River" were frequently printed to mock supporters of losing candidates.
"Martin Van Buren's inability to bridge the distance between the "Conscience," or abolitionist, Whigs and conservative Democrats is portrayed as his downfall in the 1848 presidential race. Van Buren led the Free Soil party coalition of antislavery Whigs, Liberty party abolitionists, and "Barnburner" Democrats as a presidential candidate in that race, opposing regular Democratic candidate Lewis Cass.
"In "The Modern Colossus," Cass (far right) stands on the "Democratic Platform," a solid embankment, with running mate William O. Butler (in uniform, arms folded), South Carolina senator John C. Calhoun (behind Butler), and a fourth man, probably John Van Buren. An American eagle perches at their feet. Van Buren has one foot on the Democratic ledge and stretches the other across Salt River toward the eroding "Whig-Abolition Platform."
"Calhoun: "Poor devil! he'll plump into Salt River, directly."
"Cass: "That will be no hardship. He was in Salt River before. He only goes back to his old place."
"From the left New York "Tribune" editor Horace Greeley (long coat) and fiery antislavery advocate Abby Folsom reach out toward Van Buren. Folsom: "Come to these arms, thou chiefest of ten thousand!" Greeley: "Oh! that his legs were a little longer!" Behind Greeley are Massachusetts abolitionist and Van Buren running mate Charles Francis Adams, and (far left) a third man (possibly William Lloyd Garrison) who exclaims, "O Lordy! Lordy! I'm afeared he [Van Buren] can't fetch it." Van Buren, indeed about to fall, exclaims, "O! I'm gone! I'm gone! I can't stretch myself asunder!" In the distance is a smoking volcano."
Reilly 1848-96. Weitenkampf 90. Gale 4529. Library of Congress Control Number 2003674558. Not located on OCLC as of November 2022. Item #38927