Abolition and Miscegination


 "The Abolition Catastrophe, Or the November Smash-up"
  Cartoonist:  Unknown
  Source:  Library of Congress
  Date:  c1864

Click to return to previous version of this cartoon...

Click to return to previous version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Another in the series of anti-Lincoln prints from Bromley & Co. Here, Lincolnís support of abolition is portrayed as a liability in his race to the White House against Democratic candidate George B. McClellan.

At top, a smoothly running train "Union" heads straight for the White House. The engine is labeled "Democracy" and the first car, in which McClellan stands in the role of engineer, flies a flag "Constitution." The other cars are labeled "union" and are occupied by happy, cheering Democrats. McClellan taunts, "Wouldnít you like to swap horses now? Lincoln?" (A reference to the Republican campaign slogan: "Donít swap horses in the middle of the stream.") Several of his passengers comment on the wreck of the Republican train below:

"H_ll, H_ll, Iím used to Railroad accidents but that beats Vibbards all to smash."

New York Governor Horatio Seymour: "I thought little Mac could take the train through better than I could."

"Itís no use talking Ben [Union General Benjamin F. Butler]! I told you I was on the right train Ö thunder thereís John McKeon [prominent Democratic and New York lawyer] with us."

"Little Mac is the boy to smash up all the Miscegenationists.í

"Politics does make strange bed fellows Öthe d Ö l if there aint Fernandy [Fernando Wood]!"

"Good-bye Horace [Greeley]! Nigger on the brain flummoxed you."

"Thus ends the Abolition Party."

"Be the powers the gintleman with his pantaloons in his bootleg is having a high time of it."

"Good-bye old Greenbacks!" to Salmon P. Chase, who exists with a satchel at right. Chase, who resigned his post as secretary of the treasury on June 29, says, "Thank God, I got off that train in the nick of time."

In contrast, Lincolnís train, below, is far behind after having crashed on the rocks of "Confiscation," "Emancipation," "$400,000,000,000 Public Debt," "To Whom It May Concern," and "Abolitionism." Lincoln himself is hurled into the air, and says, "Dont mention it Mac, this reminds me of a Ö" This reference is to Lincolnís rumored penchant for telling humorous stories at inappropriate moments.

"A black man crushed in the wreck accuses Lincoln, "Wars de rest ob dis ole darkey? Dis wot yer call Ďmancipation?" Another black man hurtles through the air, retorting, "Lor Amighty Massa Linkum, is dis wot yer call "Elewating de Nigger?"

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, hanging out of the train, moans, "Oh! dear! If I could telegraph this to Dix Iíd make it out a Victory." That remark refers to Stantonís control over reporting of the war. Preacher and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher holds a black child to his breast and prays, "Oh! my brethering! Plymouth Church will try to save the Platform." The notorious Union General Benjamin Butler exclaims, "H_ll! Iíve Preyed $2,000,000 already!" A reference to his allegedly corrupt control over New Orleans.

The four clean-shaven men in the train are identifiable as Senator Charles Sumner, New York journalist and political leader Thurlow Weed, Secretary of State Seward, and John McKeon.

Sumner: "Say Seward will praying save us?"

Seward: Oh! Iím a goner! Ask Thurlow, heís my spiritual Adviser."

Weed: "Pray! yes, pray Brother, Butler will lead."

At left, Maximilian, the puppet emperor of Mexico, confers with John Bull and Napoleon III of France, saying, "Oh Main Gotívi I vas send over to dis land of Greasers to pe chawed up py de Yankees." John Bullís opinion is "Ö This will never do. The Monroe doctrine must be put down." Napoleon III says, "Öby Gar, if dat train gets to de White House, its all up with my Mexico." During the Civil War, Napoleon III tried to establish a puppet state in Mexico under Emperor Maximilian.

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












Website design © 2001-2008 HarpWeek, LLC
All Content © 1998-2008 HarpWeek, LLC
Please submit questions to