Harrison's death a month after taking office brought to the Presidency John Tyler, who proposed the annexation of the Republic of
Texas, an issue which soon shook the country. Van Buren's stand opposing annexation lost him the Democratic nomination in 1844, and
James K. Polk became the Democratic candidate. In order to appease Northerners opposed to the annexation of a slave state, the
Democrats included in their platform the occupation of Oregon. Clay was nominated easily by the Whigs, as we see in this punning
Bad prophecy runs rampant in cartoons of this election. Here Clay's salamander-steed passes all others in the picture,
while Polk, the winner, is not even included (15B-1066524).
Here Clay pitches Polk out of the window while "Lady Texas" is kept out of the
room (15C-1066525). This reflects Clay's anti-annexation stand, which he later softened to gain Southern votes.
The tariff was another issue of the campaign. Here are two cartoons predicting Clay's victory, carried on the shell of
the tariff, and depicting Polk's conflicting stands on the issue (15D-1066526,15E-1066527).
Another cartoon shows Clay, the Whig "cock" defeating Polk
Punning on "Polk," as we have seen, was a favorite sport of cartoonists; here politicians dance the "polka," described
as "one step forward and two steps back."
(15G-1066529) Nevertheless, it was Polk who stepped into the presidency.
Elections by Year
15A-1066523 Artist unknown, "Political Climbing Boys," cartoon, c. 1844, reprinted from A Century of Political Cartoons , by Allan Nevins and Frank Weitenkampf (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1944) 57.
15B-1066524 Artist unknown, "The Great American Steeplechase for 1844," cartoon, 1844, reprinted from Contest for Power: The Exciting Pictorial Story of the American Presidential Elections, the Personalities, the Issues, the Turning Points in U.S. Political History, from 1778 to the Present, by the Editors of News Front (New York: Year, Inc, 1968) 63.
15C-1066525 Artist unknown, "Cleansing the Augean Stable," cartoon, 1844, J. Baillie, pub., reprinted from the collections of the New York Historical Society.
15D-1066526 H. Bucholzer, "The Race Course," cartoon, 1844, H. Bucholzer, reprinted from the collections of the New York Historical Society.
15E-1066527 Artist unknown, "James K. Polk Going Through Pennsylvania for the Tariff," cartoon, 1844, H. R. Robinson, pub., reprinted from the collections of the New York Historical Society.
15F-1066528 Artist unknown, "Political Cock Fighters," cartoon, 1844, J. Baillie, pub., reprinted from the collections of the New York Historical Society.
15G-1066529 Edward Clay, "The Polka--A New National Dance Adopted by the Democratic Convention," cartoon, 1844, reprinted from the collections of the New York Historical Society.