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Comic Chronicles – Caricaturing Old Abe Lincoln

Despite the legendary status of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, neither were universally loved during their presidencies. The History Channel, through their website, featured a look at the 1860s editorial cartooning of Honest Abe Lincoln earlier in this Presidents’ month.

In this pro-Lincoln cartoon published during the 1860 presidential campaign, “Honest Old Abe” wields a rail to defend the White House from his three opponents—a sitting senator, a sitting vice president and a former senator—who are attempting to break into it. Artist Louis Maurer dressed the vigilant Lincoln in the military-style cap and cloak worn by the “Wide Awakes,” groups of young Republican supporters who staged nighttime marches in northern cities.


Currier & Ives sold satirical cartoons to audiences across the political spectrum, and Maurer also brandished Lincoln’s “rail splitter” image against him. This drawing depicts Lincoln as a beardless bumpkin sitting atop a wooden rail carried into an insane asylum by his influential supporter, New York Tribune publisher Horace Greeley.

Although it mischaracterizes Lincoln’s views, the cartoon lampoons the relatively unknown candidate as a radical whose supporters advocate free love, equal rights for women and African Americans, socialism, the abolition of religion and government handouts.

History shows and explains a number of other political cartoons not favorable to Lincoln.


  to the AAEC

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