The Issue Joined

Now this is what “civilized discourse” is supposed to look like. When certain issues cannot be resolved by logic and reason, it is then necessary to challenge one’s opponent to a fist fight, preferably out in the quadrangle in front of the bell tower, at 12 noon, accompanied by one’s second and one’s third. In this 1846 lithograph — for which I lack sufficient historical knowledge to explain — James Polk (left centre — the 11th U.S. President) says, “If you say the Mexican War is a war of my own making, you tell a falsehood!”. In response, Daniel Webster (centre right) says: “I did say it, and I say it again!” You can even see the “middle ground” here: it’s that little shadow between the tips of the two opponents’ shoes. They look like they will both be in that middle ground at any moment. The man furthest to the left shouts, “Principles, not men!”

One reason I posted this was that I was very impressed by the apparent magic of predictive lithography: that back in 1846 these men could have pre-enacted political blogging so vividly. Had I seen this several months ago, “The Issue Joined” would have been the title of this blog.

3 thoughts on “The Issue Joined

  1. anonyjw

    It would be helpful if you could also find out what the other men are saying!

    I assume that the 3rds (rubbing) alcohol and sponges in their hands. The one on the far right seems to have already sampled a bit from his bottle, by the looks of things!

  2. Maximilian Forte

    I also thought they were sponges, and it must be some sort of alcohol that they have.

    I haven’t been able to find a good clear image with all the words clearly legible. I’ll keep checking.

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