Top of page

Photo, Print, Drawing Self-inflating pillow

[ digital file from b&w film copy neg. ]

About this Item


  • Self-inflating pillow


  • American general Gideon J. Pillow's self-promoting attempts to discredit Mexican War commander Gen. Winfield Scott are ridiculed in this portrayal of Scott puncturing "Polk's Patent" pillow. Pillow's efforts were widely viewed as part of a campaign by the Polk administration to damage Scott's growing prestige at home. An anonymous letter--actually written by Pillow--published in the "New Orleans Delta" on September 10, 1847, and signed "Leonidas," wrongfully credited Pillow for recent American victories at Churubusco and Contreras. The battles were actually won by Scott. When Pillow's intrigue was exposed, he was arrested by Scott and held for a court-martial. Polk, defensive of Pillow, recalled Scott to Washington. During the trial that ensued, "Delta" correspondent James L. Freaner testified in Scott's favor. At Pillow's behest Maj. Archibald W. Burns, a paymaster, claimed authorship of the "Leonidas" letter. Currier's cartoon was probably published during or shortly after Pillow's trial, which began in March 1848. With the sword of "Truth," Scott (right) punctures a pillow held by Burns (left) and which is being inflated by Pillow (kneeling, center). Scott holds Freaner's testimony in his hand and treads on the Leonidas letter. He exclaims at the air released, "Heavens what a smell!" At left, behind Burns is a strong box on which rests a sack of coins, marked "From Genl. Pillow for fathering the Leonidas Letter."


  • Currier, Nathaniel, 1813-1888.

Created / Published

  • 1848.


  • -  Burns, Archibald W
  • -  Freaner, James
  • -  Pillow, Gideon Johnson,--1806-1878
  • -  Scott, Winfield,--1786-1866
  • -  Presidential elections--United States--1840-1850


  • Lithographs--1840-1850.
  • Political cartoons--1840-1850.


  • -  Entered . . . 1848 by Peter Smith [i.e., Nathaniel Currier] . . . N.Y.
  • -  The Library's impression was deposited for copyright on June 23, 1848, two days after the end of testimony in the trial. On July 1, the court decided to clear Pillow of most of the charges brought against him.
  • -  Title appears as it is written on the item.
  • -  Weitenkampf, p. 91.
  • -  Forms part of: American cartoon print filing series (Library of Congress)
  • -  Published in: American political prints, 1766-1876 / Bernard F. Reilly. Boston : G.K. Hall, 1991, entry 1848-2.


  • 1 print : lithograph on wove paper ; 28.8 x 44.8 cm. (image)

Call Number/Physical Location

  • PC/US - 1848.S656, no. 2 (B size) [P&P]

Source Collection

  • American cartoon print filing series (Library of Congress)


Digital Id

  • cph 3a13799 //

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2008661477

Reproduction Number

  • LC-USZ62-11404 (b&w film copy neg.)

Rights Advisory

  • No known restrictions on publication.

Online Format

  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

Rights & Access

The Library of Congress does not own rights to material in its collections. Therefore, it does not license or charge permission fees for use of such material and cannot grant or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute the material.

Ultimately, it is the researcher's obligation to assess copyright or other use restrictions and obtain permission from third parties when necessary before publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the Library's collections.

For information about reproducing, publishing, and citing material from this collection, as well as access to the original items, see: American Cartoon Print Filing Series - Rights and Restrictions Information

  • Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
  • Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-11404 (b&w film copy neg.)
  • Call Number: PC/US - 1848.S656, no. 2 (B size) [P&P]
  • Access Advisory: ---

Obtaining Copies

If an image is displaying, you can download it yourself. (Some images display only as thumbnails outside the Library of Congress because of rights considerations, but you have access to larger size images on site.)

Alternatively, you can purchase copies of various types through Library of Congress Duplication Services.

  1. If a digital image is displaying: The qualities of the digital image partially depend on whether it was made from the original or an intermediate such as a copy negative or transparency. If the Reproduction Number field above includes a reproduction number that starts with LC-DIG..., then there is a digital image that was made directly from the original and is of sufficient resolution for most publication purposes.
  2. If there is information listed in the Reproduction Number field above: You can use the reproduction number to purchase a copy from Duplication Services. It will be made from the source listed in the parentheses after the number.

    If only black-and-white ("b&w") sources are listed and you desire a copy showing color or tint (assuming the original has any), you can generally purchase a quality copy of the original in color by citing the Call Number listed above and including the catalog record ("About This Item") with your request.

  3. If there is no information listed in the Reproduction Number field above: You can generally purchase a quality copy through Duplication Services. Cite the Call Number listed above and include the catalog record ("About This Item") with your request.

Price lists, contact information, and order forms are available on the Duplication Services Web site.

Access to Originals

Please use the following steps to determine whether you need to fill out a call slip in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room to view the original item(s). In some cases, a surrogate (substitute image) is available, often in the form of a digital image, a copy print, or microfilm.

  1. Is the item digitized? (A thumbnail (small) image will be visible on the left.)

    • Yes, the item is digitized. Please use the digital image in preference to requesting the original. All images can be viewed at a large size when you are in any reading room at the Library of Congress. In some cases, only thumbnail (small) images are available when you are outside the Library of Congress because the item is rights restricted or has not been evaluated for rights restrictions.
      As a preservation measure, we generally do not serve an original item when a digital image is available. If you have a compelling reason to see the original, consult with a reference librarian. (Sometimes, the original is simply too fragile to serve. For example, glass and film photographic negatives are particularly subject to damage. They are also easier to see online where they are presented as positive images.)
    • No, the item is not digitized. Please go to #2.
  2. Do the Access Advisory or Call Number fields above indicate that a non-digital surrogate exists, such as microfilm or copy prints?

    • Yes, another surrogate exists. Reference staff can direct you to this surrogate.
    • No, another surrogate does not exist. Please go to #3.
  3. If you do not see a thumbnail image or a reference to another surrogate, please fill out a call slip in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room. In many cases, the originals can be served in a few minutes. Other materials require appointments for later the same day or in the future. Reference staff can advise you in both how to fill out a call slip and when the item can be served.

To contact Reference staff in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room, please use our Ask A Librarian service or call the reading room between 8:30 and 5:00 at 202-707-6394, and Press 3.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Currier, Nathaniel. Self-Inflating Pillow. United States, 1848. Photograph.

APA citation style:

Currier, N. (1848) Self-Inflating Pillow. United States, 1848. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Currier, Nathaniel. Self-Inflating Pillow. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.