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Abraham Lincoln Civil War Caricature

November 7, 1863

Lincoln In Caricature by Rufus Rockwell Wilson

The cartoon, “Holding a Candle to the xxxxxxx” Much the Same Thing, appeared in London Punch on November 7, 1863. Again offering proof of how the tacit alliance between Russia and the United States grated on the sensibilities of certain high-placed Britons, the artist sought to move the multitude to laughter by depicting the President as Mephistopheles saluting the Russian bear. Mr. Lincoln was the victim of many forms of abuse both at home and abroad, but the writer fails to recall any other instance in which he was portrayed in Satan’s livery. It stands to Tenniel’s credit that not he but another was responsible for this vicious drawing.

Mr. Lincoln had been two years in his grave when the friendship between the United States and Russia had unexpected and surprising issue. For upward of a century Russia had held by right of discovery the vast stretch of North America now known as Alaska. This territory had never been brought under direct rule of the imperial government, but for the better part of seventy years its affairs had been directed by a monopoly known as the Russian-American Company. The charter of this concern, which had sublet some of its privileges to the Hudson Bay Company, expired in 1861 and renewal was delayed while the imperial government pondered whether, instead of taking such action, it should make its American possessions the basis of a colonial system or sell them at a fair price to some friendly power.

The third alternative was finally decided upon by the czar’s government, and in March, 1367, Stoeckle, the Russian minister at Washington and Secretary Seward began negotiations for purchase by the United States. A price of $7,200,000 was shortly agreed upon between them; this was promptly accepted by the authorities at St. Petersburg, and in a single night session, on March 29 a treaty of purchase took final form. In the forenoon of March 30 the President sent this treaty to the Senate, where it was adopted practically without debate, only two senators voting against it. Formal transfer of the purchase, to which Seward gave the name Alaska, occurred on October 11, 1867.

And So 577,396 square miles of land became United States territory because Russia wished to sell, and because a majority of the members of the Senate believed that in 1863 she had been ready to go to war with France or Britain in our behalf. Republics are not always ungrateful.

A poem shown below accompanied the print in the same issue and will be included with the print and Wilson's description.

Price $50

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