he strongly racist tenor of the Democratic presidential campaign of 1868 is displayed in this elaborate attack on Reconstruction and Republican support of Negro rights.
Horses with the heads of Democratic candidate Horatio Seymour and running mate Frank Blair pull a fine, ornate carriage in a race with a rude wagon drawn by asses with the heads of Republican candidate Ulysses S. Grant and Schuyler Colfax. The Democratic carriage pulls ahead in the race, heading toward a cheering crowd and a series of floral arches held by young maidens. The U.S. Capitol is visible beyond. In the carriage are four allegorical figures:
Liberty, holding the Constitution and a banner which reads "Our Glorious Union 'Distinct, like the Billows, One, Like the Sea' This is a White Man's Government!"; Navigation, holding a miniature ship; Agriculture, holding sheaves of wheat and a scythe; and Labor, represented by a bearded man with a hammer and flywheel.
In contrast to the Democratic vehicle, the Republican wagon has stalled before a pile of rocks and a cemetery strewn with bones representing "100,000,000
White Lives, the Price of Nigger Freedom!" Its wheels are blocked by a large stone "Killing Taxation" and a skeleton. Other stones represent "Ruined Commerce," "$30,000,000 stolen from the Treasury,"
and "Negro Supremacy." In the wagon are the grim reaper, Pennsylvania Congressman and black civil rights supporter Thaddeus Stevens, an unidentified man, a black woman, and an idle black man.
Stevens: "Colfax pulls like the d___l but old tangleleg [i.e., Grant] aint worth a d___n! Push at the tailboard, Ben!"
Massachusetts Congressman and former Union general Benjamin Butler, pushing the wagon form the rear, replies, "I am pushing, Thad! But we are stuck.
Seymour is a mile ahead now." Silver spoons protrude from Butler's pocket. (For the origins of Butler's nickname, Spoons, see "The Radical Party on a Heavy Grade".)
The black woman reassures Stevens, "Don't worry you'sef, honey, or you'll peg out afore we get de packet for Seymour's in de White House and we's good for Salt River [i.e., political defeat]." The black man asks, "War's dis wagon gwine wid dis member ob Congress. I'd jes like to know?" The unidentified man remarks, "The Democracy would not take me so I thought I'd come back & stick by you Uncle Thad, and we'll all go to H_ll together!" Death announces, "My friends 1,000,000 slaughtered soldiers block the wheels-you fooled them, and they now impede your progress!"
At bottom right a group of bummers, a term referring to party hangers-on, carpetbaggers, and other disreputable characters, stand in line to buy tickets to Salt River. On the left, New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley invites abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher to play the thimblerig. Nearby a black couple in rags express their desire to return to their former master. At the top-right, next to the U.S. Capitol, a group of black youths in striped outfits dance and tumble about.