This is another picture of Uncle Sam, Nast’s symbol of American government feeling beleaguered and confused by laws passed under his name. See also “Hard to Please the “White Trash.“
The Chinese Question had been answered six months earlier by passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. A framed reminder that “The “Cheap” Chinese Must Go” so that the “Bear” Politicians May Live” is only one reminder on the wall that anti-Chinese racism prevailed as law of the land. The bear is the symbol for California. The issue concerning Chinese labor was only one that plagued Uncle Sam.
A very battered and bandaged Uncle Sam attempts to recuperate upon a chaise lounge. His grim expression reflects the ills and issues he has been forced to endure and symbolically represent. Laws, taxes, bills, enactments, proclamations, declarations all serving special interests.
Written on the wall are excerpts by “Dr. Arthur” or President Chester A. Arthur. Arthur became president on September 19, 1881 after James Garfield’s death by assassin and served until March 4, 1885.
“The Arthur Administration enacted the first general Federal immigration law. Arthur approved a measure in 1882 excluding paupers, criminals, and lunatics. Congress suspended Chinese immigration for ten years, later making the restriction permanent” (White House.gov).