General Jackson, Slaying the Many Headed Monster

Description (Brief):

This 1836 caricature of Andrew Jackson symbolizes his fight to revoke the charter of the Second National Bank. Long distrusting of banking systems and a strong advocate for specie –silver and gold, Jackson made neutralizing the National Bank a top priority of his administration. In this image the twenty four heads on the snake represent the twenty four state branches of the National Bank, with the largest head belonging to bank president and Jackson foe, Nicholas Biddle of Pennsylvania. Jackson’s weapon of choice to defeat the snake is a cane labeled “Veto,” symbolizing his unprecedented use of the presidential veto power. Jackson used that executive power more than any other president, and it is ultimately what afforded him the opportunity to shut down the National Bank. Aiding Jackson in his fight against the snake is Vice President Martin Van Buren depicted holding the head of political rival and former president, John Quincy Adams, and fictional character, Major Jack Downing. Created by journalist Seba Smith, the allegorical persona of Downing symbolized the common man and came to typify the New England Yankee as full of common sense.

Description (Brief)

The lithographer of this print is Henry R. Robinson (1827-1877). Robinson worked in New York, and had a store to sell his prints. In 1842, he was arrested for selling obscene pictures and books leading to the September 28, 1842 court case, People vs H. R. Robinson found in the District Attorney Indictment Papers, Municipal Archives. He was politically affiliated with the anti-Jackson Whig party which was made obvious by the wig silhouette used in 1838 as an advertising logo for his shop.

Date Made: 1836, March

Depicted: Van Buren, MartinJackson, AndrewAdams, John QuincyOriginated Character: Smith, SebaDepicted: Biddle, NicholasArtist: Hoffy, Alfred M.Maker: Robinson, Henry R.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New York, New York City

Subject: Chronology: 1830-1839Political CaricaturesUniforms, MilitaryU.S. National Government, executive branchDepicted: Jack Downing


See more items in: Home and Community Life: Domestic Life, Clothing & Accessories, Peters Political Prints, Art, Domestic Furnishings


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: DL.60.3333Catalog Number: 60.3333

Object Name: LithographObject Type: Lithograph

Measurements: image: 11 7/8 in x 16 3/4 in; 30.1625 cm x 42.545 cm


Record Id: nmah_325568

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