Political cartoons in the North focused on several key issues. The first of these issues was Northern disgust for the newly formed Confederate States of America. One cartoon, entitled “Secession Exploded,” was released in 1861 by an unknown author and encapsulates this contempt very well. The picture portrays a large sea monster appropriately named “Secession” being blasted to pieces by a cannon labeled “Death to Traitors.” Uncle Sam is firing the cannon, while two-faced Baltimore grabs his coattails. Smaller monsters labeled as each of the Confederate States are depicted flying out of the remains of the sea monster. One of these monsters is portrayed in a particularly scathing manner. The South Carolina monster, representing the first state to secede from the Union, is drawn as a large coffin flying through the air. This harsh depiction shows how the North felt about South Carolina and the Confederacy’s prospects in the war. On the right of the picture, a bald eagle rests with Union commander Winfield Scott on the American flag. This cartoon quite literally displays the explosiveness of secession and its direct impact on dragging America into a Civil War.
Lincoln’s controversial election in 1860 was a harbinger of his highly publicized term in office. Political cartoons attacking his efficacy as president were a prevalent theme in the North during the Civil War. One cartoon, entitled “Columbia Confronts the President,” captures this sentiment perfectly. In the cartoon, Lincoln is shown standing in front of the United States War Department looking mournful. Columbia, the precursor to Uncle Sam in many political cartoons during this period, is scolding the president. In the caption, Lincoln exclaims, “This reminds me of a little joke.” Columbia retorts “Go tell your joke at Springfield.” This cartoon reflects Lincoln’s infamous habit to relate present-day troubles to childhood anecdotes from Kentucky. Printed in January 1863, soon after the bloodiest battle of the war at Antietam, it reflects the sense of frustration that many Northerners felt with the costs of the war in human lives.
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