Guided Primary Source Analysis: Rats Leaving a Falling House

The rats leaving a falling house
“The rats leaving a falling house.” 1831. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Zoom into a larger image of this political cartoon. Make a list of details that you see. Then describe the story you think this source tells using the details you noted as evidence.

Compare and contrast this source with a similar political cartoon by Edward W. Clay (view larger image). What similarities and differences do you notice? Explain which cartoon you think tells a better story.

Review the bibliographic record for the featured cartoon, paying close attention to the curator summary. What did you learn? Which cartoon do you think John Quincy Adams was referring to in his diary? Why?

What other observations, reflections or questions does this source inspire? Let us know!