Exhibition Gallery

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group shot of freelancing

Artist unknown. Why Don’t You Take It? 1861? Lithograph.

Early in 1861 residents of the nation’s capital were alarmed by rumors that secessionists hoped to capture the city in order for it to serve as the capital of the Confederate States of America. U.S. General-in-Chief Winfield Scott, the engineer responsible for the defense of Washington, is shown as a fierce bulldog. Confederate President Jefferson Davis, caricatured as a whippet, slinks away.

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Artist unknown. The Soldiers Home, The Vision. 1862. Lithograph. Currier & Ives. 1862.

This sentimental scene published early in the war depicts a woman’s dream about her husband’s valor in the Union Army.

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Albert Waud, 1828-1891. "The Battle of Bull Run, 2 p.m. July 21, 1861," Harper's Weekly, August 10, 1861, p. 504-505. Wood engraving.

The major illustrated weeklies embedded "special artists" with the troops to provide detailed on-the-scenes drawings of battlefield events during the Civil War. Cameras were not fast enough to capture the action of war, which meant that reportorial art such as this provided the visual documentation of events for readers. Realistic depictions of the war countered romantic notions of chivalry and heroism that were prevalent during the early months of the conflict.

flowers for the living

“How ‘The Southern Commissioner’ Tried to mould Public Opinion in England,” Wood engraving. Richard Saumel West Collection.

Two separate cartoons by unknown artists are published on this page. The sequential narrative of the upper cartoon details the activities of James M. Mason, the Confederate States of America’s envoy to England as he curried support for the Southern cause.  His
so-called Cotton Diplomacy sought to capitalize on the hardship caused to England’s textile workers by the shortage of cotton caused by the USA’s shipping embargo against the Confederacy.
The lower images describe the capture of the steam ship Saint Nicholas in the Potomac River by a Confederate officer, Colonel Richard Thomas, who was disguised as a French woman. Brother Jonathan was a precursor symbol to Uncle Sam.

Aesop up to a date

Artist unknown. John Bull Makes a Discovery. Attributed to Currier & Ives. 1862 or 1863. Lithograph.

This print reflects Northern concern that Great Britain, here symbolized by John Bull, would support the Confederacy. The Union blockade had caused shortages of Southern cotton that crippled the English textile factories. John Bull is touching the hair (i.e. “wool”) of the slave with his right hand and holds a clump of raw cotton in his left hand as he comments about the usefulness of American cotton to the British.

Billy Ireland passes away suddenly

David Claypoole Johnston, 1799-1865. The House that Jeff Built. 1863. Etching. Draper Hill Collection.

The horrors of slavery are depicted in twelve sequential vignettes accompanied by a rewritten version of the nursery rhyme “The House That Jack Built.”

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[poltical prints] 186-? Lithograph. Thomas L. Minnick Collection.

In this portrait series of prominent Union political figures, the artist reused a single lithography stone by re-drawing the sitter's facial features multiple times.

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Artist unknown. Little Mack & His Party “Going Up Salt River” on a Gun Boat: Terrific Explosion of the “Quaker Gun” and the destruction of the entire party. 1864. Lithograph.

Both political parties were divided during the 1864 election campaign. The Democrats were split between Peace Democrats and War Democrats, and as a result, the party nominated Union General George B. McClellan for President and adopted a peace platform. Fears that Lincoln could not lead the Union to victory caused Republican dissenters to nominate John C. Fremont for President. Republicans loyal to Lincoln joined War Democrats to form the National Union Party, and Lincoln ran for reelection as its candidate. This print spoofs the conflict within the Democratic Party. Candidate Little Mack’s campaign is in such disarray that it will lead him “up Salt River,” a euphemism current at the time describing loss and obscurity for a political candidate. A Union Party slogan was “Don’t change horses in the middle of a stream,” hence the Democrats are depicted foundering in the boat while Lincoln is safe on dry land, Emancipation Proclamation in hand. “Quaker gun” refers to a fake cannon.

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Artist unknown. The Old Bull Dog on the Right Track. 1864. Currier & Ives. Lithograph.

Democratic presidential candidate George B. McClellan’s military failures are contrasted with the determination of bull dog General Ulysses S. Grant’s determination to capture Richmond.

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Attributed to Henry Louis Stephens, 1832-1882. The Copperhead Millennium. 1864? Engraving.

War Democrat George B. McClellan, shown here as a lion, and peace Democrat George Pendleton, the lamb, were the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates for their party in 1864. Samuel L. M. Barlow was a wealthy lawyer and close friend of McClelland’s who was the chief strategist of his presidential campaign. “Copperhead” was the term applied to Democrats who opposed the Civil War.

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Thomas Nast, 1840-1902. "Compromise with the South: Dedicated to the Chicago Convention," Harper's Weekly, September 3, 1864, p. 572. Wood engraving.

Nast’s cartoon opposing appeasement was reprinted and distributed widely by the National Union Party and is credited as being influential in Lincoln’s reelection to a second term. It depicts an amputee from the Grand Army of the Republic shaking the hand of a victorious Confederate soldier over the grave of “Union Heroes Who Fell in a Useless War.” Columbia, weeping with her face hidden, crouches beside the grave with the devastation warfare has caused to both sides shown behind her. The U.S. flag, with Northern triumphs, such as emancipation of the slaves, Lookout Mountain, and Vicksburgh [sic] inscribed on it, is upside down in the international signal of distress. The C.S.A. flag behind the Confederate soldier bears reminders of the war’s horrors-- slavery, guerrilla warfare, and starving Yankee prisoners. Instead of drawing a cartoon about the virtues of Honest Abe, Nast’s cartoon reminded potential voters of war’s toll, something most people in the United States would have experienced by 1864. By identifying the South with despicable things, Nast urged his readers to support the justice of the Union’s cause and to continue its defense by re-electing Lincoln as President.

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Artist unknown. The First of May 1865 or General Moving Day in Richmond Va. 1865. Chromolithograph. Published by H. & S. Voit. Lithographed by Kimmel & Forster, 254 & 256 Canal St, New York.

President Jefferson Davis, shown here with the bricks of the Southern States tumbling from his back, and his cabinet evacuated Richmond, the capital of the Confederate States of America, in April 1865 following a long siege by General Ulysses S. Grant. A freed slave is shown thumbing his nose at the exiting dignitaries and the C.S.A. Treasury box, labeled waste paper, is being urinated on by a dog.

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John Cameron, 1830-1876. The Capture of an Unprotected Female, or the Close Up of the Rebellion. 1865. Currier & Ives. Chromolithograph.

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F. Welker. Jeff’s Last Skedaddle: Off to the Last Ditch. 1865. A. McLean. Lithograph

Union troops captured C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis on May 10, 1865 as he was attempting to escape from Richmond. In his autobiography, Davis said that he had mistakenly picked up his wife’s coat and that Mrs. Davis had given him a shawl to wear, not an uncommon article of clothing for a man at the time. Journalists and cartoonists in the North seized this opportunity to mock the Confederate President and several versions of his capture were published as comic prints.

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Louis Kurz, 1833-1921. National Picture: Behold Oh America Your Sons. The greatest among men. Chas. Shober, Chicago. 1865. Lithograph.

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The Question Settled. 1865? Chromolithograph. E.B. & E.C. Kellogg, Hartford, Conn.

Old Abe, a large white cat, guards the milk bowl as the gray cat Jeff is crowded out by a black cat labeled Contraband, the term used to describe escaped slaves after their capture by Union troops in order not to have to return them to their owners under the terms of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

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Attributed to Charles Kimmel. The Outbreak of the Rebellion in the United States 1861. 1865. Kimmel & Forster. Lithograph.

Published late in 1865 after the end of the war, this reflection on its outbreak is critical of President James Buchanan (shown asleep) and his Secretary of War John B. Floyd (shown raking coins into a bag). Liberty is the central figure, flanked by Justice and Abraham Lincoln.

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David Claypoole Johnston, 1799-1865. [Metamorphosis caricatures of Jeff Davis] Etching. 1863. Draper Hill Collection.

Jeff Davis after the surrender of Fort Sumpter April 13, 1861 Jeff Davis after the surrender of Fort Sumpter 1863 In David Claypoole Johnston: The American Cruikshank (American Antiquarian Society, 1941), Clarence S. Brigham describes these cards as “…a form of Metamorphoses, a kind of ‘Before’ and ‘After’ idea, in which a pullout tab affixed to an inner sheet transformed the expression of the eyes and mouth: in order to create political comment.”

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[Patriotic envelopes] about issues of the war were commercially printed and sold starting in the spring of 1861. Like these unmailed covers, most were saved as mementos.

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Artist unknown. Magic lantern slide showing the capture of Jefferson Davis dressed in women's clothes. 1865. Ink and watercolor on glass in a wooden mount.

Magic lanterns were early devices used to project images. This is yet another variation on the capture of Davis as depicted in three prints shown on the east wall of this gallery.

Adelbery John Volck, 1828-1912, was a Baltimore dentist who is the only known person to produce cartoons supporting the Confederate States of America. The twenty-nine etchings he produced under the pseudonym V. Blada villified the North and glorified the South and its people. These examples are from a set of impressions that were reprinted from the original copper plates in 1882 by Porter & Coates.