This large painted cartoon was part of Nast's 1867 Grand Caricaturama show, which was exhibited in New York beginning December 4, 1867, and in Boston beginning March 30, 1868. It consisted of 33 large paintings, each eight feet high by twelve feet wide.
During the show, the pictures were moved across the stage and were accompanied by a spoken narration and music.
“Swing Around the Circle” refers to a highly unsuccessful speaking campaign by U.S. President Andrew Johnson in 1866. To campaign for his lenient Reconstruction policies and for his preferred candidates in the upcoming midterm Congressional election, Johnson and key administration officials embarked on a tour from Washington, D.C., to Chicago and returned through St. Louis and the lower Midwest. This roundtrip was called the “swing around the circle.”
In this painting, Nast used political caricature to convey the failings of Reconstruction due President Andrew Johnson’s lack of leadership. "Swinging Round the Circle" depicts President Andrew Johnson wearing a crown and riding on a merry-go-round with other prominent political figures of his time period.
The cartoon was restored and hung in 1990 at the Morristown and Morris Township public library.
Only eight known paintings from the Grand Caricaturama are known to exist.
Two paintings are held by Macculloch Hall, Morristown, New Jersey, and five others are held by the Library of Congress.