Photo Gallery: Political Cartoons of the 1860s

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The following cartoons illustrate some of the political topics of the time.||

This campaign image advertising the 1860 Republican ticket proclaims the ideals of 'Free Speech, Free Homes, Free Territory.' Below the portraits of Lincoln and Hamlin are two American workers, a woodsman and a smith, with the phrase 'Protection to American Industry' etched in a shield.

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"Prof. Lincoln in his great feat of balancing." The president is portrayed as a jester, balancing War, represented by Fort Sumter, SC, where the war broke out, and Peace, represented by a dove.

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Little Mac's Union Squeeze: A cartoon from the Richmond Examiner, reprinted in Harper's Weekly February 8, 1862, portrays General George McClellan as a giant snake, putting the squeeze on the Confederates. In late January Lincoln had issued his General War Order No. 1, calling for Union mobilization before February 22nd and reflecting Lincoln's frustration with McClellan, who had been slow to launch an attack.

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In this cartoon the President attempts to distract Liberty from demanding that her sons not be sent into battle. Faced with declining forces of volunteers, Congress enacted a draft for the first time in 1863, calling for 500,000 men to fight for the Union. The order, signed by the president, lies on the floor at Lincoln's feet.

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In a Harper's Weekly cartoon from September 17, 1864, Lincoln holds General George McClellan in his palm. Lincoln had relieved McClellan of his command in November 1862, after McClellan showed reluctance in pursuing and defeating the Confederates. At the time of this cartoon, McClellan was Lincoln's opponent in the 1864 election, though he had been slow to start campaigning following his nomination at the Democratic National Convention. Lincoln joked at the time that McClellan's delays, so similar to his hesitations in battle, meant the general was "intrenching." The cartoon references this quip -- in his hand, McClellan holds out a shovel.

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