The most raving political maniac I ever knew.
John Tyler on Thomas Hart Benton.
About the illustration:
Another mock shinplaster (see also nos. 1837-9 and -10 above). Again the artist attributes the shortage of hard money to the successive monetary programs of presidents Jackson and Van Buren, particularly to the former's pursuit of a limited-currency policy and his dismantling of the Bank of the United States. In the drawing Jackson rides a pig headlong toward a precipice, followed by congressional ally Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton, on an ass. Both pursue the "Gold Humbug" butterfly, symbolizing their efforts to restrict the ratio of paper money in circulation to gold and silver supplies. Van Buren, riding a fox, cunningly deviates from this disastrous course and follows a downward path leading toward the Bank. Jackson (reaching for the butterfly): "By the Eternal!! I'll have it, Benton!" Benton (whipping his mount with a quill pen): "Go it thou Roman!! a greater man ne'er lived in the tide of times.!!" His quill is labeled "Expunger," an allusion to Benton's extended campaign to "expunge" or remove the 1834 Senate censure of Jackson from the Congressional Record. Van Buren (losing his crown): "Although I follow in the footsteps of Jackson it is &2expedient, &1at &2this time &1to & 2 deviate & 1a little!!" Below the precipice Nicho;as Biddle, Bank of the United States president, sights Van Buren from atop his bank. The note is endorsed by the publisher, who promises "to pay Thomas H. Benton, or bearer, Fifty Cents, in Counterfeit Caricatures at my store . . . " It is dated May 10, 1837, the date of the New York banks' emergency suspension of specie payments.