About the illustration, entitled A Cure for Republican Lock-Jaw:
Mr. BALDWIN: My statement . . . was . . . that the administrative force of the government must be lodged necessarily in the hands of the majority; . . . and that any attempt to build the administration of the Government on any narrower foundation than the virtue, and intelligence, and power of a majority of the people would lead to its overthrow.
Mr. MONTAGUE: Exactly. I did not misunderstand my friend. . . . But, sir, I utterly deny that proposition. It is entirely at war with the theory and practice of the government. . . . The very aim, and end, and object of a government, is to protect the minority against the majority. A majority can always protect itself. If you give the minority no guarantee of power to protect itself, against the aggressions of the majority, then your government is but a despotism of numbers, the worst of all despotisms - a government of strength and not a government of right.
The artist portrays congressional efforts to pass the Crittenden Compromise as an antidote to Republican intransigence on the slavery issue. (For an earlier anti-North satire relating to the compromise, see "Congressional Surgery. Legislative Quackery," no. 1860-44.).
Three well-dressed men (probably members of Congress) attend a sick man, who wears a dressing gown and holds a document inscribed "Republican Platform No Compromise." Together they pull the invalid from his chair and struggle to force an oversized pill "Crittenden Compromise" down his throat, pushing it with a "Petition of 63,000." A box of "Constitutional Remedies" (containing more giant pills) is on the floor nearby. The door to the room stands open at right.