'Political Race Course - Union Track - Fall Races' (1836).

Edward Williams Clay - or E.W. Clay in short - was an early 19th-century U.S. lawyer, painter and political cartoonist. Much of his work was imbued with his firm racial prejudice and strong support of slavery. Together with William Charles, E.W. Clay was also one of the earliest U.S. political cartoonists to use sequential narratives and speech balloons. His prints 'Lessons in Dancing' (1828) and 'Life in Philadelphia' (1828-1830) are a series of thematically connected satirical drawings. His one-panel cartoon 'The Seven Stages Of The Office Seeker' (1852) illustrates a progression in seven chronological images. Clay's 'This Is The House That Jack Built' (1840) is notable for featuring an entire story, told in panels. It was the closest he came to drawing a full comic page. 'What's Sauce for the Goose is Sauce for the Gander' (1851) is a two-panel balloon comic.

Early life and career
Edward Williams Clay was born in 1799 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the son of a sea captain of English descent. Clay studied law and by 1825 he became a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. To finance his studies, he took a job as an engraver. Eventually, he left the world of law and became a fulltime artist. Between 1825 and 1828, he studied art in London, where he discovered the work of the cartoonists George Cruikshank, Isaac Robert Cruikshank and Thomas Rowlandson. Their use of caricature, speech balloons and pointed satire were a strong inspiration on his own work. Clay also visited Paris. During his stay in Europe, he became active as an illustrator. He drew portraits, cartoons, but most of all covers for sheet music. This latter specialisation remained his main source of income for most of his career. Clay mostly illustrated lyrics of minstrel songs. These songs were performed by white entertainers in blackface while imitating stereotypical black speech, slang and mannerisms. A well-known example is Clay's cover for the 1832 edition of the minstrel song 'Jump Jim Crow', published by E. Riley at 29 Chatham Street, New York City. However, these cover designs weren't an expression of Clay's love for music. Instead they were part of his lifelong personal agenda against black people and pro slavery. 

Lessons in Dancing
While Clay was an art student in Europe, he drew a thematical series of character vignettes under the title 'Lessons in Dancing' (R.H. Hobson, 1828). The drawings provide a satirical view on professional dancers, such as the French ballet dancer Francisque Hutin, but also poke fun at common people hopping around, like a group of African-Americans doing a juba dance. Apart from social satire, 'Lessons in Dancing' also pioneers Clay's use of political satire. He portrays well-known U.S. politicians of the day, like Arthur Middleton and Don Francisco Tacon, shaking to the music in a comical way.

'At Home/Abroad' (1833).

Life in Philadelphia
In 1828, Clay returned to the United States. Back in Philadelphia after his long sojourn abroad, he viewed the city with different eyes. Inspired by George Cruikshank's cartoon print series 'Life in London', he picked out his own birth city to give his satirical look. Between 1828 and 1830, he drew 14 cartoons that mocked the citizens of Philadelphia. They were published under the title 'Life in Philadelphia' by William Simpson and Susan Hart. The cartoons were not only very popular in the USA, but also in London. The British publisher Harrison Isaacs commissioned the artist William Summers to redraw some of the images and, while he was at it, enlarge them too. Summers not only improved the artwork, but also added borders around each image. When 'Life in Philadelphia' was reprinted in 1831-1834, extra cartoons were added, some drawn by Clay, others by Summers. Comic historians still debate which should be credited to whom.

'Life in Philadelphia' provided a satirical view of both white and African-Americans, though their portrayals are vastly different in tone and quantity. Of the original 14 Clay cartoons, only four mock white people. The other ten ridicule black people. While white people are ridiculed in a gentle way, African-Americans receive far more scorn. Clay portrays them as primitive buffoons who can't speak proper English. Even the ones who aren't slaves or stuck in low-paid jobs are still portrayed as people out of their league. A shining example is the cartoon 'At Home/Abroad' (1833), which is notable for its use of a two panel sequence. In the first panel ('At Home'), Clay shows an African-American couple in their house, wearing casual clothing. In the second panel ('Abroad'), the husband and wife are in the street, dressed in a fancier outfit. Clay deliberately makes their fancy clothing look ridiculous, implying black people can't appreciate their wealth and are better off remaining slaves. At the time, quite a number of privileged white people enjoyed this simplistic confirmation of their own prejudices. In fact, when 'Life in Philadelphia' was reprinted, even more cartoons ridiculing black people were added. And by the time of the 1833 London reprint, every cartoon poking fun at white people was removed.

'King Andrew the First' (1832), depicting U.S. President Andrew Jackson, a cartoon generally attributed to E.W. Clay.

Political cartoons
In 1831, Edward Williams Clay became a full-time political cartoonist, selling his work on the corner of Fourth and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia. Four years later, he moved to New York City, where his lithographs were published by at first John Pendleton and Anthony Imbert and then H.R. Robinson and John Childs. Clay was a supporter of the Whig Party, a U.S. version of the British political party of the same name. The Whigs advocated conservative and nationalist viewpoints. Most of Clay's political cartoons can be considered propaganda for this party. Many are notable for their use of speech balloons.

The most iconic political cartoon associated with Clay is 'King Andrew the First'. On 10 July 1832, U.S. President Andrew Jackson vetoed a bill to reorganize the Second Bank of the United States, despite national debt. In his opinion, the national bank was corrupt and benefited the wealthy, rather than the common people. His veto was controversial, and Jackson faced accusations of power abuse. A few months later, a cartoon mocking Jackson started to circulate. It shows him as an absolute monarch holding a veto bill, while standing on the U.S. constitution. The cartoon is unsigned, but generally credited to E.W. Clay. The idea of depicting a U.S. politician as a king wasn't new: in 1812, William Charles already drew a similar cartoon, mocking politician Josiah Quincy: 'Josiah the First'. But the 'Andrew the First' cartoon became far more famous. It was used in campaigns to oppose Jackson's presidency, especially regarding the upcoming elections. Nevertheless, Jackson was re-elected for a second term.

With regard to smoking, Clay was much ahead of his time. In his cartoon 'The Smokers' (1837) he opposed it in an era when few people questioned the habit. It depicts a huge crowd expressing their love for tobacco in speech balloons. But the text underneath the panel reads: "Tobacco is a stinking weed / it was the Devil sow'd the seed / it drains the purse & fouls the clothes / and makes a chimney of the nose."

Pro slavery cartoons
As mentioned earlier, Clay was a staunch defender of slavery. Much to his horror, the United Kingdom abolished slavery in 1833. Fearing the U.S. would be next, Clay instantly made dozens of cartoons warning people of the "consequences" if black slaves would be freed. 'Grand Celebration Ob De Bobalition Ob African Slabery' (1833) ridicules the abolishment of slavery in the U.K. The cartoon shows a group of black people celebrating at a large dinner table. Their dialogues, captured in speech balloons, are filled with bad spelling and stereotypical African-American slang.

Clay was so paranoid about the U.S. becoming a multicultural society, that he devoted an entire cartoon series to the subject: 'Amalgamation' (1839). Two cartoons in this series, 'Johnny Q... Practical Amalgamation (The Wedding)" and 'Practical Amalgamation (Musical Soirée)', show blacks and whites socializing, with black men lusting after white women. In the cartoon 'The Fruits of Amalgamation', a white woman gives birth to a multiracial baby. Behind them is a portrait of the Shakespearean multicultural couple Othello and Desdemona. Apart from black people, Clay also mocked white anti-slavery activists, such as William Lloyd Garrison.

'This Is The House That Jack Built' (1840).

Prototypical comics
Although Clay often used speech balloons in his one-panel political cartoons, he rarely made use of sequentially illustrated narratives, or made a combination of the two. A striking exception is 'This Is The House That Jack Built' (John Childs, New York, 1840). A parody of the English nursery rhyme 'The House That Jack built', the cartoon uses the text comic format, with a rhyming narrative underneath each panel. Clay was inspired by Thomas Rowlandson, who in 1809 made a political-satirical text comic of the same name, that also parodied this nursery rhyme. In Clay's version, U.S. President Andrew Jackson is "Jack the house builder", while the house in question is the corrupt subtreasury system that he left behind for his presidential successor Martin Van Buren. In the heading, Jackson and his advisor Amos Kendall are smoking pipes, metaphorically clouding up their nefarious schemes. The first panel describes "the malt" in the house and shows crates in a cellar. They are labeled "post office revenu", "public land sales", "custom house", "bonds" and "pension fund". Eating the malt in the next panel is a rat with the face of U.S. Treasure Secretary Levi Woodbury. One scene later, the rodent is caught by U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster, depicted as a cat. A huge dog with the face of Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton threatens Webster in the fourth panel. However, the Webster cat has positioned himself on the constitution, depicted as a book lying on a chair. In the fifth image, Kentucky senator Henry Clay, portrayed as a cow, lifts Benton on its horns. The cow returns in the next panel, shouting "Tariff" in a speech balloon. The Senator of South Carolina, John C. Calhoun, is shown as a distraught milkmaid, whose bucket, labeled "nullification", has been spilled. The scene refers to the 1832-1833 nullification crisis, which Henry Clay's Compromise Tariff temporarily solved.

In the seventh panel, Martin Van Buren wheels a barrow of cabbages in, dressed as a stereotypical Dutch farmer on clogs. His speech balloon reads: "Here's your fine Kinderhook Early York Kabbitches." Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York, and had Dutch roots. In the next scene, Van Buren is married to Calhoun, with the editor of the Washington Globe, Francis Preston Blair, serving as the priest. Their wedding symbolizes their remarkable 1840 political alliance. In the final panel, the new U.S. President William Henry Harrison - once a Ohio senator - crows as a rooster at dawn. Since he was a member of the Whig Party, it is understandable why the cartoonist hailed him as a hero.

Clay's cartoon 'What's Sauce for the Goose is Sauce for the Gander' (1851) uses two sequences and speech balloons. This prototypical comic shows a slaveowner, Mr. Palmetto, who tries to recover a fugitive black slave, Cesar, from a Northern anti-slavery activist, Mr. Pumpkindoodle. Pumpkindoodle gives Cesar a gun, so he can resist, and boasts: "I don't recognize any U.S. law! I have a higher law, a law of my own." In the right panel Pumpkindoodle and Cesar demand Palmetto to return stolen goods to them, again mentioning the "law of their own" as the only law to obey to.

'The Seven Stages Of The Office Seeker' (1852).

In 1852, Clay made his final sequential narrative, 'The Seven Stages Of The Office Seeker'. In seven chronological images - depicted as a life pyramid - we see the rise and fall of a New York politician. Next to each of the seven images there is a corresponding panel, metaphorically comparing each phase of the politician's life with a certain animal. The first image, 'Treating', shows the candidate toasting supporters and potential voters. They cheer for him in the second scene, 'Stumping', so that by the next panel, 'Begging for Office', he can lobby with the governor for a swell position in the government. In the fourth panel, 'In the Office', the politician finally achieved the position he craved for. From then on, it all goes downhill. In the fifth panel he's 'Out of Office', in the sixth ('Exit') he hangs from a tree and in the final image, 'Coroner's Inquest', his corpse is observed by twelve coroners.

Final years and death
In 1852, Edward Williams Clay's eyesight began to fail, which eventually meant the end of his graphic career. Through family connections, he became Clerk of the Court of Chancery and Clerk of the Orphan's Court for Delaware from 1854 on. The same year, he designed a Shankland's American fashion plate printed by P.S. Duval & Co. It was one of his final graphic projects. In 1856, he resigned as clerk and returned to New York to receive medical care. Around the same time, Clay's beloved Whig Party fell apart over the issue of slavery, which some members supported and others wanted to see abolished. E.W. Clay passed away in 1857 at age 58, from TBC. Four years after his death, the slavery issue polarized the United States to such a degree that a Civil War broke out. In 1865, the war was over and slavery abolished for good. While Edward Clay spent most of his life and art warning white people about the consequences of giving black people constitutional freedom, none of his paranoid predictions have come true.

'What's Sauce for the Goose is Sauce for the Gander' (1851).

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