A political cartoon concerning the monetary proposal for peace between President Polk and General Paredes of Mexico during the Mexican American War. Polk and secretary of the treasury Robert J. Walker fire “Secret Service Money, $2,000,000” across the Rio Grande from the “U.S.A. Peacemaker” cannon. The coins fill the large money bag, “Mexican Sub Treasury,” held by the wide-eyed Paredes. King Luis Phillippe of France and Queen Victoria witness the scene. The suspicious Louis Phillippe fears the expansionist “Yankees” and exclaims, “I shall send a fleet of observation to the Gulf at once!” Victoria begrudges the United States’ possession of California and offers to act as mediator to “Friend Polk.” Polk declines the offer, sneers about foreign involvement, and asks for more “ammunition” from Walker. Walker, kneeling by the filled “U.S. Treasury” chest, gleefully complies and boasts about the infinite bounty from his “free trade measures and sub-treasury system.” “Mediation and Pacification,” lithograph by H. R. Robinson [Edward Williams Clay, signed on stone], 26.8 x 39.6 cm (New York, 1850). Courtesy of the American Political Cartoon Collection at the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Click to enlarge in a new window.


Welcome to Commonplace, a destination for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. A bit less formal than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Commonplace speaks—and listens—to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900. It is for all sorts of people to read about all sorts of things relating to early American life—from architecture to literature, from politics to parlor manners. It’s a place to find insightful analysis of early American history as it is discussed in scholarly literature, as it manifests on the evening news, as it is curated in museums, big and small; as it is performed in documentary and dramatic films and as it shows up in everyday life.

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Sophie White, “Trading Looks Race, Religion and Dress in French America,” Commonplace: the journal of early American life, accessed September 30, 2019, https://commonplace.online/article/trading-looks-race-religion-dress-french-america/


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