Uncle Sam sick with la grippe

Photo Details

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 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.

Part of the U.S. Library of Congress's American cartoon print filing series (Library of Congress).

  • Lithographs--1830-1840.
  • Political cartoons--1830-1840.
  • 1 print : lithograph on wove paper ; 30.5 x 41 cm. (image)
Clay, Edward Williams, 1799-1857.
  • Printed & published by H.R. Robinson 52, Cortlandt Street, New York.
  • Signed with monogram: C (Edward Williams Clay).
  • Title appears as it is written on the item.
  • Davison, no. 102.
  • Helfand, p. 11.
  • Murrell, p. 132.
  • Weitenkampf, p. 36.
  • 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 1837-6.


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