Photo, Print, Drawing The looking glass for 1787. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Mat. chap. 13th verse 26
About this Item
- The looking glass for 1787. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Mat. chap. 13th verse 26
- A satire touching on some of the major issues in Connecticut politics on the eve of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The two rival factions shown are the "Federals," who represented the trading interests and were for taxes on imports, and the "Antifederals," who represented agrarian interests and were more receptive to paper money issues. The two groups were also divided on the issue of commutation of military pensions. The artist here evidently sides with the Federals. Connecticut is symbolized by a wagon (top center) loaded with debts and paper money, the weight of which causes it to sink slowly into the mud. Its driver warns, "Gentlemen this Machine is deep in the mire and you are divided as to its releaf--" The wagon is pulled in opposite directions by two factions of the state's Council of Twelve. On the left under a beaming sun are five Federal councillors, who proclaim: "Pay Commutation," "Drive them to it," "I abhor the antifederal Faction," and "Comply with Congress." On the right the sky fills with angry storm clouds spewing thunderbolts, while the earth erupts in flames. Below six of the council's Antifederal members pull on their chain crying: "Tax Luxury," "the People are oprest," "curses on to Foederal Govermt.," "Success to Shays" (an allusion to charges that they sympathized with agrarian radicals led by Daniel Shay in Massachusetts), and "Curse Independence." The seventh Antifederal on the council, William Williams (here labeled with his press pseudonym "Agricola"), also appears. He stands defecating at right, with his trousers undone and a small animal--probably a skunk--between his feet. Williams remarks, "I fear & dread the Ides of May" (i.e. the May 15 elections to the upper house). The skunk sprays toward Williams's enemy Samuel Holden Parsons (far right, identified as "S--H--P"), president of the state's Society of the Cincinnati. Parsons, also obscenely bending over, sprays back saying, "A good Shot." In the left middleground, "Cato," a pseudonymous contributor to the "New Haven Gazette," comments, "I despise your Copper" to the man beside him, who holds a Connecticut coin and mutters, "Cur's commutation." In the center a farmer with a plough, rake, and bottle complains, "Takes all to pay taxes." In the left foreground three members of the Connecticut Wits stand on the Mount "Parnassus," and read from a scroll "American Antiquities" (excerpts from their "Anarchiad" published in Connecticut newspapers beginning in October 1786). To the right is the Connecticut shoreline and the buildings of Manhattan, the latter threatened by thunderbolts from the upper right. Three merchant vessels ply a body of water below, "From Connecticut to New York paying L40000 per annum Impost." In the left corner a tiny figure sits at a w7riting desk, reading a paper with the verse: "Tweedles Studdy/as I sit plodding by my taper." This piece alludes to a satirical poem by "Trustless Fox" in the "New Haven Gazette" of November 23, 1786. Its opening lines are: "As I sat plodding by my taper, I wreaked a glance into the paper . . . ." The interpretation given above is largely based on the commentary of a Sotheby's cataloger (see reference below). That writer suggests that "Trustless Fox" and the designer of "The Looking Glass for 1787" may have been one and the same, based on the references to material in the New Haven Press.
- Doolittle, Amos, 1754-1832, engraver
Created / Published
- [New Haven] : 1787.
- - Parsons, Samuel Holden,--1737-1789
- - United States.--Constitution--1880-1890
- - Society of the Cincinnati--1880-1890
- - New-Haven gazette and the Connecticut magazine--1880-1890
- - Shays' Rebellion, 1786-1787
- - Military service--1880-1890
- - Monetary policy--1880-1890
- - Pensions--1880-1890
- - Connecticut--1880-1890
- - Massachusetts--1880-1890
- - Council of Twelve
- - Cato (Pseudonym)
- Political cartoons--1880-1890.
- Political cartoons--1880-1890
- - Attribution to Amos Doolittle is from the Sotheby's auction catalog.
- - Title appears as it is written on the item.
- - Sotheby's "Fine Printed and Manuscript Americana." (Catalog of the auction sale April 16, 1988). New York: Sotheby's, 1988, no. 44.
- - Weitenkampf, p. 11.
- - Caption label from exhibit "American Treasures Top Treasures": A Looking Glass for 1787. The process of state ratification of the United States Constitution was a divisive one. This satirical, eighteenth-century engraving touches on some of the major issues in the Connecticut politics on the eve of ratification. The two rival factions shown are the "Federals," supporters of the Constitution who represented the trading interests and were for tariffs on imports, and the "Antifederal," those committed to agrarian interests and more receptive to paper money issues. The two groups were also divided on the issue of commutation of military pensions. The artist, Amos Doolittle, clearly sides with the Federalist cause. Connecticut is symbolized by a wagon sinking into the mud. Its driver warns, "Gentlemen this Machines is deep in the mire and you are divided as to its releaf ."
- - Purchase; Sotheby's; 1988 (DLC/PP-1988:100).
- - 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 1787-1.
- - Exhibited in: Creating the United States, Library of Congress, 2008.
- 1 print : engraving and rocker work, with watercolor on laid paper ; 28.7 x 36.7 cm. (image)
Call Number/Physical Location
- PC/US - 1787.D664, no. 1 (B size) [P&P]
- American cartoon print filing series (Library of Congress)
- Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
- cph 3b42510 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b42510
- cph 3j00218 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3j00218
- cph 3g01722 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g01722
- ppmsca 17522 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.17522
Library of Congress Control Number
- LC-DIG-ppmsca-17522 (digital file from original) LC-USZ62-96402 (b&w film copy neg.) LC-USZC4-1722 (color film copy transparency) LC-USZCN4-218 (color film copy neg.)
- No known restrictions on publication.
Additional Metadata Formats
- Observe Constitution Day with a Library of Congress Primary Source Set
- Convention and Ratification - Creating the United States
- On Despising English Liberties and Other Wisdom from the Founders
- Top Treasures - American Treasures of the Library of Congress
- James Wilson: America's First Globemaker
- The Constitution
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- Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-17522 (digital file from original) LC-USZ62-96402 (b&w film copy neg.) LC-USZC4-1722 (color film copy transparency) LC-USZCN4-218 (color film copy neg.)
- Call Number: PC/US - 1787.D664, no. 1 (B size) [P&P]
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Cite This Item
Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.
Chicago citation style:
Doolittle, Amos, Engraver. The looking glass for . A house divided against itself cannot stand. Mat. chap. 13th verse 26. Connecticut Massachusetts, 1787. [New Haven:] Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2008661778/.
APA citation style:
Doolittle, A. (1787) The looking glass for . A house divided against itself cannot stand. Mat. chap. 13th verse 26. Connecticut Massachusetts, 1787. [New Haven:] [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2008661778/.
MLA citation style:
Doolittle, Amos, Engraver. The looking glass for . A house divided against itself cannot stand. Mat. chap. 13th verse 26. [New Haven:] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2008661778/>.