1. Category:
  2. Fine Art (2,667)

Matty's Perilous Situation Up Salt River

Edward Williams Clay, J. Childs
90 Nassau Street, New York, NY
Origin Date:
overall: 14 in x 21 in
Item ID:
Holding Institution:
Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum
Available for Viewing:
Fine Art


This lithograph is a political cartoon depicting William Henry Harrison saving Martin Van Buren during the 1840 presidential campaign. A pro-Whig satire on the presidential campaign of 1840. Martin Van Buren is neck-deep in the waters of "Salt River," a colloquial term for political misfortune or failure. He sinks under the weight of boxes marked "Tariff," "Hooe's Trial," "Negro Suffrage," "Sub Treasury," and "Standing Army of 200,000 Men," surmounted by a crown with a hand holding a purse. His hat, filled with newspapers friendly to the administration, floats away. Whig candidate William Henry Harrison paddles downstream on a barrel of hard cider. On the shore behind him is a shed labeled "Humane Society's Apparatus for the Recovery of Drowned Persons." Van Buren says: "Oh that I could shake off this load! I am sinking deeper and deeper into the quicksand of Loco Focoism! Help! Ming! Riel! Slam! Bang! Help!" (He names New York Democratic figures Alexander Ming and Levi Slamm.) Harrison says: "It's a pity to let the poor fellow drown; I had an idea of making him Inspector of Cabbages of Kinderhook for that's all he's good for; but I think he will sink. Oh what a weight!" The cartoon is signed in the lower left corner of the image "EWC" (Edward Williams Clay, 1799-1857). The publisher's information and the title are printed in the lower margin. Part of the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum