Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Breaking the Backbone of Rebellion with Emancipation

In honor of the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (September 22), I thought I'd post this cartoon I found on the Library of Congress website. I remember seeing a somewhat similar picture in the the American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War a long time ago, but that particular image depicted Lincoln battling the gyascutus alone while symbolically being hamstrung by the Democratic Party and the Constitution.

Here, Jeff Davis holds his chained gyascutus - a mythological animal seemingly part dog, part alligator, part dragon - and marked "rebellion," and with the distinction of having "the stiffest backbone ever grown" that "can't be broken."  While one dejected man (not identified but maybe John J. Crittenden?) sits behind holding his head and a tiny hammer labeled "compromise," Gen. Henry Halleck prepares to hammer away at the animal's back with a mallet labeled "skill."  Gen. George B. McClellan does the same with a hammer labeled "strategy."

Standing on deck to take a swing at the beast of secession is Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton with the "draft," and says "Halleck may use his skill and Mac his strategy, but this draft will do the business."  President Lincoln, the "old railsplitter" tells Stanton, "You can try him with that, but I'm afraid this ax of mine is the only thing that will fetch him."  The ax is labeled "Emancipation Proclamation."  

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