An engraving showing John Quincy Adams (the runner in the middle) slightly ahead in the presidential footrace, with William H. Crawford of Georgia (on Adams’ right) closely behind, and General Andrew Jackson farther back but kicking up dust in his spurt forward. Notice that Henry Clay (right foreground in black boots) is far behind on the road. Candidates and not issues dominated the campaign, as the cartoon vividly shows. Jackson is the people’s choice or “son,” and though “hindmost” in the race, the thin contender had the “best bone” or appearance. Statements about John Quincy Adams are not flattering. Depicted as a rotund sprinter, he is nevertheless a man of uncertain health, being afflicted with both the “bots” and the “Quinsy,” the latter a bad pun. He was probably allowed to lead the race only because it had become a custom since Jefferson’s day for the Secretary of State to step up to the presidency. The gentleman waving the cocked hat and cheering his “son Jack” is, of course, John Adams. Crawford gets little attention except for the allusion to Ninian Edwards’ attempt to blacken the Georgian’s name (note the wordplay on “Ninny”). (See note 2
on entry for 1 May 1824, p. 110.) Henry Clay, just about out of the race, is characterized as a jockey, who could still take the lead if he got down on “all fours” and began “dealing”—a reference, no doubt, to the Kentuckian’s fondness for gambling. In the background the President’s House (now the White House) is shown as a small thing, while the prestige of the office and the salary of $25,000 a year (a small fortune at the time) loom larger. The Capitol, which dominates the background, reminds the viewer where real power lay in 1824. Most political observers believed that the House of Representatives would choose a President after the failure of the Electoral College to produce one.
David Claypoole Johnston (1797–1865), the engraver, was a gifted cartoonist who became known as the “American Cruikshank.” In keeping with his playful references to John Quincy Adams’ “illnesses,” Johnston was not above signing his drawing with a scato•
logical pseudonym (bottom right in picture). See Clarence S. Brigham, “David Claypoole Johnston: The American Cruikshank,” American Antiquarian Society, Proceedings,
50 (1940): 98–110; Allan Nevins and Frank Weitenkampf, A Century of Political Cartoons: Caricature in the United States from 1800 to 1900,
New York, 1944, p. 32–33.