Uncle Sam Sick with La Grippe

Edward Williams Clay, American, 1799 - 1857. Published by Henry R. Robinson, American, active 1833 - 1851.

Date:
1834

Medium:
Lithograph

Dimensions:
Image: 11 x 15 15/16 inches (28 x 40.5 cm) Sheet: 13 x 18 3/4 inches (33 x 47.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1988-102-120

Credit Line:
The William H. Helfand Collection, 1988

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Label:
The "grippe" from which Uncle Sam is suffering is the economic crisis precipitated by President Andrew Jackson's veto of a bill to recharter the Bank of the United States. Jackson is the physician, Senator Thomas Hart Benton is the pharmacist holding a large enema syringe, and Martin Van Buren, later to succeed Jackson as president, is the nurse. Jackson's failure to improve his patient's condition has led to the call for another doctor, Nicholas Biddle, the Philadelphian who had headed the closed national bank.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPicture of Health: Images of Medicine and Pharmacy from the William H. Helfand Collection

    The "grippe" from which Uncle Sam is suffering is the economic crisis precipitated by President Andrew Jackson's veto of the bill to recharter the Bank of the United States and his subsequent demand that only hard currency be used in payment for federal lands. Those ministering to the sick nation include the president as the physician; Jackson's vice-president and eventual successor Martin Van Buren as the nurse; and his political ally Senator Thomas Hart Benton as the apothecary holding a clyster. Jackson's lack of success in improving Uncle Sam's condition had led to the call for another doctor, and Nicholas Biddle, former head of the national bank, can be seen arriving. Biddle is greeted by Brother Jonathan, who was, like Uncle Sam, a frequent symbol of the United Sates in the nineteenth century; the print is unique in showing both figures simultaneously. William H. Helfand, from The Picture of Health: Images of Medicine and Pharmacy from the William H. Helfand Collection (1991), p. 77.