There’s a lot going on in this sketch, giving us a glimpse of what New Yorkers (well, New York men, that is) experienced when they went to the polls for the 1856 election.
This pre–Civil War election presented three candidates. Democrats backed James Buchanan, the Republicans supported Californian John Fremont, and former president and New Yorker Millard Fillmore was the man representing the American Party–aka the Know Nothing Party.
New York went for Fremont, but Buchanan won the country.
[Sketch: The NYPL Digital Collection]