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Abraham Lincoln Civil War Caricature


January 24, 1863

This is one of the classic Tenniel Punch cartoons of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War and unusual in that it is favorable toward Lincoln and his cause as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation issued in final form earlier that month in January 1863. The former slave is pictured as taking the Proclamation and showing eagerness to fight his former master. Indeed they did, 180,000 men strong the freed blacks were a critical element on the Union victory after active recruitment beginning after the Proclamation was issued. This cartoon comes with a poem, the first column of which is shown below, that came in the same issue of Punch entitled "Old Abe In A Fix; Or, A Hard Rail To Split."

From Lincoln in Caricature by Rufus Rockwell Wilson

The cartoon, by Tenniel, Scene from the American “Tempest,” appeared in Punch, January 24, 1863. News of the emancipation of the slaves by Mr. Lincoln had reached England earlier in the month, and Punch, for once showing good will for the Union cause, depicts the President, clad in the uniform of a Union soldier, handing a copy of his proclamation to a grinning negro, who points to a glowering Confederate in his rear and says: “You beat him nough, massa! Berry little time, I’ll beat him too.”

 Approval of Mr. Lincoln’s action by English champions of freedom for all races and conditions of men took other and more impressive forms. The Non-conformists now earnestly espoused the Northern cause, and Spurgeon, then the most popular of their preachers, made the thousands congregated in his Tabernacle pray together: “God bless and strengthen the North; give victory to their arms. Bondage and the lash can claim no sympathy from us.” Richard Cobden, who had seen some striking popular movements in his time, wrote of a great meeting in Exeter Hall: “I know nothing in my political experience as striking,’’ while in March, 1863, John Bright, addressing the trade unions of London in St. James Hall, pointed out with lofty and compelling eloquence the inner and permanent meaning for the common people of England of the contest being waged in America. “I wish you to be true to yourselves,’’ he told his hearers. ‘‘Dynasties may fall, aristocracies may perish, privilege will vanish into the dim past; but you, your children and your children’s children, will remain, and from you the English people will he continued to succeeding generations.”

 “You wish for the freedom of your country,” he continued. “You strive for it in many ways. Do not then give the hand of fellowship to the worst foes of freedom that the world has ever seen, and do not, I beseech you, bring down a curse upon your cause which no after-penitence can ever lift from it. You will not do this. I have faith in you. Impartial history will tell that, when your statesmen were hostile or coldly neutral, when many of your rich men were corrupt, when your press— which ought to have instructed and defended—was mainly written to betray, the fate of a continent and its vast population being in peril, you clung to freedom with an unfaltering trust that God in His infinite mercy will yet make it the heritage of all His children.”

 The passage of the years has confirmed the force and truth of the great Quaker’s vision.

Below is the first half of the poem published in the same issue as the engraving. It will be included with the print and Wilson's description above.

Price: $95

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