The Looking Glass of 1787

Date: 1787
Creator: Possibly Amos Doolittle
About this artifact

This Connecticut cartoon appeared in 1787 at the height of the ratification debates over the proposed Federal Constitution. In Connecticut, as elsewhere, those favoring ratification were called Federalists; their opponents were referred to as Antifederalists. The artist of this cartoon, who is possibly Amos Doolittle, favored ratification. Connecticut is represented by a wagon sinking into the mud under its heavy load of debts and paper money as the two faction pull the wagon in opposite directions. The man in the wagon states "Gentlemen this Machine is deep in the mire and you are divided as to its releaf." To the left, under a sunny sky, are the five Federalist councilors. On the right, under a stormy sky issuing lightning bolts, are six of the seven Antifederalist councilors, one of whom says "Success to Shays." The seventh Antifederalist councilor is below and identified as "Agricola" which was the pseudonym William Williams used. He is saying, "I fear & dread the Ides of MAY." May 15 was Election Day for the Connecticut upper house. The character identified as "S?H?P" is Williams' enemy, Samuel Holden Parsons. Parsons was the president of the Connecticut Society of the Cincinnati, a hereditary military order open only to officers of the Continental Army and their male desecndents. The smaller cartoon within the cartoon at the lower left has the caption "Tweedles Studdy as I sit plodding by my taper," a reference to a satirical poem in the New-Haven Gazette. A copy of this poem, titled, i"Poem in the New Haven Gazette", appears on this site.

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Courtesy Library of Congress, Washington, DC Prints and Photographs Division