Lincoln and McClellan Compared


 "I Knew Him, Horatio …"
  Cartoonist:  Justin Howard
  Source:  Library of Congress
  Date:  c1864

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
McClellan, in the character of Hamlet, stands near an open grave holding the skull of Abraham Lincoln. He soliloquies, "I knew him, Horatio: A fellow of infinite jest … Where be your gibes now?" The cartoon evidently appeared following publication in the New York World of a scandalous but fabricated account of callous levity displayed by Lincoln while touring the battlefield at Antietam.

McClellan’s lines here come from Hamlet, act 4, scene 1, which takes place in a graveyard, where a gravedigger throws up the skull of Yorick, the king’s jester. Hamlet ponders the skull, mediating on the nature of life.

At left are the words, "Chicago Nominee," referring to McClellan. At right an Irish gravedigger pauses in his work. Horatio (far right) is New York governor and prominent Peace Democrat Horatio Seymour. The White House is visible in the distance.

Source: American Political Prints, 1766 - 1876: A Catalog of the Collections in the Library of Congress, 1991, by Bernard F. Reilly, Jr.












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