This political cartoon sets Democrat Stephen A. Douglas against Republican Abraham Lincoln during the presidential campaign of 1860. From left to right, the figures represent John Bell of Tennessee (Constitutional Union party candidate); John A. Wise (influential Democratic governor of Virginia); Douglas; James Buchanan (Democratic incumbent president); John C. Breckenridge (Buchanan’s vice-president and Democratic candidate); and Lincoln.
An interpretation of the scene comes from Americana dealer William Reese:
The cartoon is a play on the word “stump,” serving as a colloquial expression for both campaigning and a wooden leg. In “taking the stump” to campaign, Douglas is handicapped by a pegleg; in a dialogue balloon he explains his condition to Bell and Wise by stating that he “fell over a big lump of Breckenridge, and have been very lame ever since.” In turn, Breckenridge has his right foot and lower leg wrapped in bandages, and Buchanan presents him with a pegleg, telling his Vice President, “Here, Breck, as Dug [Douglas] has taken the stump, you must stump it too.” Breckenridge, perhaps alluding to his poor showing at the Democratic Party’s May convention, replies, “I suppose I must, but I know it will be of no use, for I feel that I haven’t got a leg to stand on.” Lincoln, leaning against a symbolic split-rail fence and the only figure depicted in casual dress, declares to the others, “Go it yet cripples! Wooden legs are cheap, but a stumping won’t save you.”
More information: Bernard Reilly, American Political Prints 1766-1876 (1991) GA Oversize E183.3.R45 1991Q and Currier & Ives: a Catalogue Raisonne (1983) GA Oversize NE 2312.C8 A4 1983Q.