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Settin' on a rail

Settin' on a rail A satire, probably issued during August or September 1837, on the tug-of-war for influence on the President between Jacksonian Democrats and the "soft money" or conservative element ... show more

Settin' on a rail
1 print : lithograph on wove paper ; 26.3 x 39.7 cm. (image)
A satire, probably issued during August or September 1837, on the tug-of-war for influence on the President between Jacksonian Democrats and the "soft money" or conservative elements of the party. Here the artist portrays Van Buren as indecisive and secretive about his treasury policy. Sitting on a rail fence, Van Buren is pulled to the left by former President Andrew Jackson, Senator Thomas Hart Benton, and other representatives of the hard money faction. One man holds up the June 1836 "Letter to Sherrod Williams" published during the presidential campaign as a statement of Van Buren's views on monetary matters, internal improvements, and other cogent issues. On the opposite side Van Buren is pulled by a man (possibly editor Thomas Allen) holding a copy of the "Madisonian," a conservative Democratic newspaper initiated in August 1837, and four others. Jack Downing stands to the far right, watching and commenting, "Well I swan, if the Old Gineral aint pullin' tu! Look out Matty or you'll commit yourself this time!" Jackson: "Oh! Major Jack Downing, The base treachery & perfidy of the Deposite Banks! The money making concerns, devoid of patriotism & interest. By the Eternal! They are & ever have been a curse." Benton: "Gold! Gold! Gold! . . . Solitary & alone I still cry Gold! . . . Partially obscured man behind Benton: "The proud Isle! Every man, woman & child is taxed to pay her our debts." Van Buren: "Take care gentlemen, you'll have me off the fence." "Madisonian" man: "Preserve & regulate the spoils but do not destroy them." Second man: "Well regulated monopolies, are the proper balance wheel." In the commotion Van Buren's hat, emblazoned with a royal crown, falls off.
  • Entered . . . 1837 by H.R. Robinson.
  • Printed & published by H.R. Robinson, 52 Cortlandt St. N.Y.
  • Signed with monogram: C (Edward Williams Clay).
  • Title appears as it is written on the item.
  • Davison, no. 95.
  • Weitenkampf, p. 46.
  • Forms part of: American cartoon print filing series (Library of Congress)
  • Published in: American political prints, 1766-1876 / Bernard F. Reilly. Boston : G.K. Hall, 1991, entry 1837-12.
  • Cartoon Prints, American
Clay, Edward Williams, 1799-1857.
  • Allen, Thomas.
  • Van Buren, Martin,--1782-1862.
  • Williams, Sherrod.
  • Madisonian (Washington, D.C. : Weekly)--1830-1840.
  • Civil service reform--1830-1840.
  • Downing, Jack or "Zek" (Fictitious character)
  • Lithographs--1830-1840.
  • Political cartoons--1830-1840.
American cartoon print filing series (Library of Congress)
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Photo provided courtesy of the United States Library of Congress.