This symbolic group portrait–which unites Senators Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun–celebrates the legislative efforts to preserve the Union, most notably the Compromise of 1850. Webster stands with his hand resting on the "Constitution of the United States of America." Senator Calhoun, holding a quill, looks on near the center; seated next to him is Henry Clay. Other prominent politicians and military leaders of the day also appear. The print reflects the hopeful sentiments of a nation that recently averted war and also draws on patriotic themes: a winged goddess Liberty flies down from an Olympian temple inscribed "America" to crown the gathering with an olive branch; while a laurel-crowned bust of George Washington holds a copy of the Constitution in place.
The print was published two years after the 1850 Compromise, no doubt to take advantage of this legislative achievement and to celebrate the life of the three principals (all were deceased by the end of 1852; Webster died last, on October 24, 1852). Nearly a decade after the print was published, it was reissued with alterations reflecting the changing political environment (38.00018.001). Several of the faces were removed and replaced with more pro-Union public figures. Most notably, the head of Calhoun was supplanted with a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.