Millard Fillmore in cartoons: “Buck” takes the pot (1856 presidential elections)


The first Republican Party nominee to the presidency, Gen. John C. Fremont, has stumbled and is spread out on the floor.  Former Whig, now American Native Party (Know-Nothings) candidate Millard Fillmore carries a lantern, but is blindfolded.  James Buchanan takes the pot of soup, victory in the 1856 presidential race.

From the Library of Congress American Memory Collection, published by Currier and Ives in 1856:

Buck Takes the Pot, 1856 Presidential Election cartoon - Library of Congress, Alfred Whital Stern Lincolnia Collection

"Buck Takes the Pot, 1856 cartoon published by Currier and Ives - Library of Congress

Captions in the balloons, as read by the Library of Congress:

SUMMARY: A pro-Buchanan satire, critical of the divisive or sectionalist appeal of the other two presidential contenders in the 1856 race. “Buck” or Buchanan (left) has evidently won a card game over Fremont (fallen at right) and Millard Fillmore (at right, blindfolded).

Holding four aces and a large cauldron of “Union Soup” Buchanan vows, “I have fairly beaten them at their own game, and now that I have became possessed of this great “Reservoir” I will see that each and Every State of this great and glorious Union receives its proper Share of this sacred food.”

Fremont has tripped over a “Rock of Disunion” and fallen to the ground, still holding his large spoon “Abolition.” He laments, “Oh, that I had been born a dog!–This is too much for mortal man to bear. Had I not stumbled over that “Blasted” rock I might have reached the fount of my ambition and with this good ladle ‘Deal’ to the North, and leave the South to ‘Shuffle & Cut’ off their mortal coil, by starvation, I shall have to ‘Pass’!”

Behind Fremont, Fillmore wanders blindfolded, holding a Know Nothing lantern (reflecting his party’s nativist affiliation) and a spoon. He despairs, “I regret to say that ‘Going It Blind’ is a loosing Game, I did hope that I would be able to dip my spoon in the Pot without much difficulty.–My Hand is played out–‘Buck’ wins, and I am satisfied–Four aces can’t be beat! and Buck holds them.”

One severe handicap of these 19th century cartoons:  They are much too wordy!

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