Cleansing the Augean stable
A pro-Whig satire, envisioning the cleansing of the "Augean Stable" of government corruption by presidential candidate Henry Clay and other Whigs. The title derives from one of the twelve mythical labors of Hercules. The hero was to clean King Augeas's stables, which had been inhabited for thirty years by three thousand oxen. The artist draws a parallel with the White House, held almost continuously since 1829 by the Democrats. The artist applauds Whig opposition to the annexation of Texas, illustrated by Virginia congressman Henry A. Wise's expulsion of "Madam Texas" at left. Wise says, "You will go about your business & lurk around these premises no longer. Your former master has forbidden all persons to harbor or trust you, & we shall not pay your debts for you." The "former master" was Mexico, who, though granting Texas its independence in 1836, still considered the Lone Star Republic a wayward province. With a pitchfork, Henry Clay tosses his Democratic counterpart James Polk out the window while incumbent President John Tyler throws George Dallas out the same window. Clay says, "It's all very well, Mr. Polk, but you can't come here." Andrew Jackson, poking his head in a nearby window exclaims, "By the eternal! We shan't know the old place, these fellows have gutted it so completely." To their left, Daniel Webster shovels out Thomas Hart Benton's gold coins, or "mint drops." Senator John C. Calhoun carries "fox" Van Buren toward the door, holding him unceremoniously upside-down by the tail. "Cleansing the Augean Stable" evidently appeared in the summer of 1844. (The Library's impression was deposited for copyright on July 10.) The appearance of Calhoun and Tyler, ostensibly on the side of the Whigs here, is puzzling. Calhoun and Tyler, both strong annexationists, had by this time lined up fairly decisively behind the Democratic candidates.