History Gallery

Antique Prints Autographs Rare Books Connecticut Law
Maps Miscellaneous Newspapers & Magazines Historical Memorabilia Political
  World War I Posters   World War II Posters  

HOME       About Us




Abraham Lincoln Civil War Caricature

November 19, 1864

One of the things that Rufus Wilson misses in his description below of this cartoon below is the significance of the South using Blacks in the military. It was not until 1864 that it was seriously considered by Jefferson Davis even though General Robert E. Lee had recommended it earlier. Many in the South raised the logical objection that their entire war effort was premised on the inferiority of blacks and that slavery was their natural and proper place, so allowing them to bear arms and to free them after their service undermined the purported reasons for the bloody struggle. The Confederate Congress did not authorize the change until March 1865 when it was too late to have any effect on the war.

Lincoln In Caricature by Rufus Rockwell Wilson

The cartoon, The Black Draft, drawn by Tenniel appeared in London Punch on November 19, 1864. Here Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Davis again keep company, the one at the pistol’s point and the other with a rawhide forcing two frightened negroes to drink from bowls labeled “Conscription.” But this satire loses part of its force when the fact is recalled that every man of color who served in the Union Army did so as a volunteer. The men of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts—the first colored regiment of the North to enter the war—who fell with their white colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, in the gallant but hopeless assault on Fort Wagner in July, 1863, were volunteers.

So were the 180,000 other men of color who, following their example, enlisted under the Union flag before the war’s end. The employment of colored soldiers early became a matter of hopeful concern to Mr. Lincoln. “I am told,” he wrote on March 23, 1863, to Andrew Johnson, then military governor of Tennessee, “you have at least thought of raising a negro military force. In my opinion the country now needs no specific thing so much as some man of your position and ability to go to this work. When I speak of your position, I mean that of an eminent citizen of a slave State and himself a slaveholder. The colored population is the great available and yet unavailed force for restoring the Union. The bare sight of 50,000 armed and drilled black soldiers upon the banks of the Mississippi would end the rebellion at once.”

And in August, 1863, after the fall of Vicksburg, the President addressed General Grant in like manner regarding the enlistment of colored troops. ‘‘I believe,” he wrote, “it is a resource which, if vigorously applied now, will soon close this contest. It works doubly—weakening the enemy and strengthening us. We were not fully ripe for it until the river was open. Now I think at least 100,000 can and ought to be organized along its shores, relieving all the white troops to serve elsewhere.” And Grant promptly replied: “By arming the negro we have added a powerful ally. They will make good soldiers, and taking them from the enemy weakens him in the same proportion they strengthen us.’’

Mr. Lincoln and General Grant proved true prophets. Until the war ended colored volunteers fought gallantly on many sections of the battle front, and, after the lapse of four score years, the widows of a goodly number of them still hold places on the pension rolls at Washington.

This is a nice piece of Lincoln, Civil War and Black Americana.

Price: $95

Pay securely with credit card through PayPal by clicking the button below

or pay by other means described in the information and ordering page.