image: 9 3/4 in x 18 3/4 in; 24.765 cm x 47.625 cm
United States: New York, New York City
This 1836 print was created in response to President Andrew Jackson’s success in claiming monetary compensation for French spoliations dating to the Napoleonic Wars. During the Napoleonic Wars (1803 to 1815), France, ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte, and their allies, engaged in a series of major conflicts as an extension of the French Revolution. The main target of these conflicts was Great Britain and their allies, but American merchant ships were often damaged by the French Navy. Negotiations to ratify these marine losses began during the war, but rather than helping, they are partially to blame for starting the War of 1812. Dealings with France regarding this issue were at a stalemate, but early in his first term Jackson proposed the Franco-American Treaty of 1831, calling for France to pay twenty five million francs to the United States to cover the spoliation claims from American merchants. Following this, France led by King Louis Phillipe paid European claims, but ignored the United States’. This angered Jackson, and he threatened military intervention if France did not pay. The threats frustrated France, but they agreed to pay only if Jackson apologized. When he refused, payment was again taken off the table. In 1836, Jackson finally conceded, and with the help of Great Britain, negotiated to receive the payments. This print shows Jackson’s joyful glee upon receiving the sack of “$25,000,000 francs.” He kicks his feet up in a jig, holding the sack of money in one hand and his hat in the other. Sprawled at Jackson’s feet is the King Louis Phillipe of France who states, “Nom de Dieu [my god]! I try de double shuffle wis dis ole Jackson, and he put me on my back.” Above the King Martin Van Buren is playing a fiddle, alluding to his role in the negotiations as Secretary of State. In the background of the print are a myriad of world leaders, including the Czar of Russia, the Sultan of Turkey, and The Pope. All are expressing their approval of Jackson’s success with the French, and speak to his nonintrusive and understated foreign policy agenda and the overall global displeasure with France.
The lithographer of this print is Edward Williams Clay (1799-1857). Clay was a caricaturist, engraver, lithographer, and etcher, as well as a portrait painter. Before his career as an artist, Clay was admitted to the Philadelphia Bar, but quickly left to pursue art in New York City. After losing his eyesight he retired from art and held minor office in Delaware before his death in December of 1857.
The publisher of this print is Henry R. Robinson (1827-1877). Robinson worked in New York, and had a store to sell his prints. In 1842, he was arrested for selling obscene pictures and books leading to the September 28, 1842 court case, People vs H. R. Robinson found in the District Attorney Indictment Papers, Municipal Archives. He was politically affiliated with the anti-Jackson Whig party which was made obvious by the wig silhouette used in 1838 as an advertising logo for his shop.