This undated print is a reference to the so-called “Bank War” following President Andrew Jackson’s decision to remove the deposits from the Second National Bank of the United States. The print depicts Andrew Jackson in a theatrical costume, portraying Richard III in front of a crowd at the base of the US Capitol. The title of the print refers viewers to Act Four, Scene Four of the Shakespeare Play, Richard the Third. In this scene, Queen Elizabeth mourns the death of her sons at the hands of Richard III. She is devastated and enraged, and calls upon Richard’s mother and her mother in law, the Duchess of York, to curse the troubled King. The two women confront Richard, and he is enraged in his denial saying, “blow the trumpets! Sound the alarm drums! Don’t let the heavens hear these tell-tale women insulting the Lord’s anointed. Sound I say!” While Jackson greatly differed from Richard III, he was similarly manipulative and dismissive of his political wrong doings. On the right of the print, stands robed female figures representing “Liberty” and “Justice,” who are asking him where their “children… public confidence, honor, reputation, and credit” are. In Richard the Third, Richard murders the children who are supposed to be leading the country. The implication is that Jackson did the same to the aforementioned American values by removing the deposits from the Second National Bank of the United States. Jackson almost directly quotes the character of Richard when confronting “Liberty” and “Justice” stating, “A flourish trumpets strike alarm drums, let not the Heavens hear those tell tall women rail on the Lords anointed. Strike I say.” Behind Jackson stands fictional character Major Jack Downing (created by journalist Seba Smith to symbolize the common man) and Vice President Martin Van Buren both dressed in similar period garb to Jackson, perhaps filling the roles of Richard III’s friends, Ratcliffe and Catesby.
The lithographer of this print is E. Forbes. It is likely that this is artist Elisha Forbes who worked in New York City from approximately 1830 to 1846, but further information is not available at this time.
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