1865 Civil War Allegory Lithograph
About a month ago, I came across this print in my mother's attic. It was all wrapped up in old brown butcher paper and the old white twine. And when we looked at it we said, "What is this all about?" So I'm actually wondering what the interpretation is on this picture.
Well, that's a great question. The story that this tells is explained in the title, which is The Outbreak of the Rebellion in the United States, 1861. This print is a lithograph and it was issued in 1865, but it tells a story of the outbreak from a Northern point of view, of course. Now, the print is divided into pretty much two halves with a wonderful central motif here. This is Liberty, and going on down, here we see the theme. And you see this horrible crack, and that represents the crack in the United States that was caused by the secession of the Southern states. And you can see over here you have a typical American mother with her children weeping for the United States. We move to the left over here and we see the Southern secession. Now, right here, this is James Buchanan, who was the president before Lincoln, before the Civil War. And he was accused of basically doing nothing-- of sleeping while the South was breaking off. This figure down here-- and you can see down here his name, Floyd-- that's John B. Floyd, who was the secretary of war under Buchanan. And not only was he doing nothing; he was actually convicted of corruption because he was stealing money from the treasury. And over here we have the South. We have all the soldiers with the cannon. Here's the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, and you can see the Southern soldiers are rending the flag. And up here we have Fort Sumter, where the Civil War started. Here we have a snake, which represents evil, blowing out hot, gaseous air toward Justice, who is very angry and attacking. Then we move over to the right side, and here we have the Union. We have President Lincoln and the commander in chief, who is Winfield Scott. And down here you have all the Union people who are bringing money and helping support the Union. And their support is going to lead to a golden future, and the sun is rising there. So it tells the whole story of the beginning from the Northern perspective. Unfortunately, because allegories aren't really understood today I think they're undervalued. So it's probably worth about $1,200 to $1,400, which is a substantial amount, but if you consider that it's such a wonderful story from the period, it probably should be worth more.
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