General Jackson, Slaying the Many Headed Monster

General Jackson, Slaying the Many Headed Monster

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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.
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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
1836, March
Van Buren, Martin
Jackson, Andrew
Adams, John Quincy
originated character
Smith, Seba
Biddle, Nicholas
Hoffy, Alfred M.
Robinson, Henry R.
place made
United States: New York, New York City
image: 11 7/8 in x 16 3/4 in; 30.1625 cm x 42.545 cm
ID Number
catalog number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Chronology: 1830-1839
Political Caricatures
Uniforms, Military
U.S. National Government, executive branch
Jack Downing
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Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Clothing & Accessories
Domestic Furnishings
Peters Political Prints
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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