Abraham Lincoln: A Caricature of His Time


Lincoln: A Cartoon Caricature

Lincoln and the Press


Abraham Lincoln believed that with public sentiment nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. He had a strong appreciation for the power of the press to influence public opinion. He manipulated public opinion and the press; as he leaked private letters to various editors which helped to create a personal loyalty with them. His strong attachment to the press wasn’t better exemplified than on the night he was mortally wounded at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.   Newspaper clippings were found in the wallet he carried in his pocket.

A Team of Rival

Lincoln had a favorite expression, “if you can’t lick’em, join’em.” He followed his own advice; as he managed his relationship with the newspapers by recruiting the loyalties of newspaper owners, editors, and reporters on a grand scale. After recruiting members of the press, Lincoln would offer jobs in his cabinet, or at the White House in exchange for favorable news reporting. For their loyalty, they were rewarded with positions like; ambassador, port inspector, revenue collector, postmaster, and White House staffer. Since this strategy was effective, during his presidency, “dozens and dozens of the ink” were brought in to save the Union.

Satirical Illustrations

President Abraham Lincoln enjoyed humor, and many Americans enjoyed poking fun at him, some good-natured and some politically charged. One of the most widely published in Harper’s Weekly was humorist and cartoonist, Thomas Nast. His satirical illustrations gave a voice to the feelings, emotions, and thoughts of the American, newspaper reader. Below are some examples of political cartoons that illustrated the life and times of President Lincoln’s presidency.

Lincoln’s First Inaugural viewed by North and South

This cartoon foreshadowed the “Lady of Liberty” becoming the “Caesar of War,” just months after his Presidential Inauguration. Lincoln’s powers as president were in question by many, just as the “War of the Rebellion” was to begin.





Copperheads were Northern sympathizers, dissenters of the war, who supported a truce to end the conflict. Hence during the election of 1864, they supported former General George McClellan for president as he ran against Lincoln.  Their influence inconsequently  waned with the ebb and flow of the Union’s success against the South. Furthermore, his detractors were not limited to Southern critics;  Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd said, the constant attacks caused him, “a great deal of pain.”

New York Draft Riots, July 13-16, 1863.

The significance of the riots was that it showed the anti-war attitudes of many protestors. Most noteworthy were the Irish immigrants, who violently protested being drafted into a war whose cause was the emancipation of slaves.

England’s View of Lincoln’s Problems

The United Kingdom’s press viewed the fragmented republic as being a failed experiment.  The cartoon showed a foreshadowed society of civil disobedience  with a disregard  for law and order. Foreign governments watched and hoped that the American people would lose faith in their government and  consequently weaken their democracy.  Foreign governments used the newspaper to spread divisive propaganda while they attempted to gain political influence by manipulating  public opinion.


Lincoln’s Last Card

Lincoln’s shown playing cards with a southern soldier.  He raised his last card which showed the racist image of a black man.  The card game sat on a barrel of gunpowder–that raised questions about whether the military draft instituted by the president was a real card or just a bluff.




Columbia confronts Lincoln

Columbia was the Goddess of Liberty, which stems from classical symbolism. She is the country’s conscience talking: “Where are our sons?  Who is to blame?”  As an aside, Columbia was the unofficial national anthem, sung and hummed by soldiers from both north and south.  It originated around 1796. Due to the overwhelming number of fallen soldiers  the will of the people to wage war was severly tested.


Lincoln’s Dream

Because it was known that Lincoln believed in the prophetic importance of dreams.  A newspaper  cartoon  depicted him dreaming about the past failures of various battles and the decapitation of members from his cabinet.  His dreams tormented him, causing him great pain and suffering, as a result he suffered some form of depression.  This illustration predicted that good times were coming.

The cartoons depicted the rowdiness of democracy; and the political abuse inflicted upon President Lincoln.  Throughout the war, saving the Union at all costs was his primary goal.  He united the nation against racism, hatred, and bigotry.

A Message from the President

Much as he was ridiculed, Lincoln was also praised during his presidency for his part in the Civil War.  Lincoln’s words during his first inaugural address were most revealing: “…we are not enemies, but friends… through passion we may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection…”

 A History Lesson

What can be learned from this time in our history?  During Lincoln’s presidency the country had consequently lost faith in its democracy;  and therefore,  it  turned to division and violence in a self-destructive manner.  It was due to the  greatness of Lincoln that our nation was saved.  Today, we face similar challenges that have divided us.

Lincoln’s Greatness

Most of all, Abraham Lincoln demonstrated a strong character with purpose, vision, and truth.  He took ownership of an emotional nation while he self-regulated his emotions, thoughts, and behavior.  His social awareness and self-awareness provided him with wisdom to govern.  He used reflection, introspection as he contemplated his military and political decisions.  Most especially, his social awareness showed respect, compassion, and positive communication to all Americans regardless of their support for him.  As he demonstrated these qualities with a moral compass; he became known,  as the president of all Americans, both North and South.



A Civil War Soldier’s Diary: Seeing the Elephant of War


Brotherton Cabin, Chickamauga, Site of Longstreet’s Breakthough, September 20, 1864

A Battlefield Illusion: A Soldiers Hell

While I was at the front, most every day, I would recollect about the good old days on the farm; everything that was beautiful, peaceful, and familiar; the rolling green acres, the fresh smell of a garden, the sounds of the barnyard, and the joy of sitting down to a home cooked meal. Such thoughts brought some comfort to a mind that was fatigued and tired of war. After I was wounded, I dreamt of my childhood running over the hills and dales chasing butterflies and fireflies, hoping to catch one, and making a wish. I laid for hours on end trying to fall asleep with a panged gut feeling of being homesick. I wrote often in my diary to remember the war and my days as a soldier.

I always volunteered for dangerous duty, because I was so scared, and I didn’t want anyone to guess that I was afraid. On a night when I volunteered for sentry duty, there was a foggy mist that covered the evening ground that made it impossible to see. Suddenly out of the mist, a Johnny Reb came a crawlin’ towards me. As he got closer to me, his face drifted out from behind the fog, he was a few feet away when I saw him clearly. I shortened my bayonet and let him have the point just under his ear. He stared at me idiotically, like he had sat on a tack. His eyes dimmed and went out. It was my first kill. My heart thumped, as I turned to return to camp, then out of the darkness jumped another rebel, I had to kill him in the same way. It felt like I murdered the same man twice, it was a queer moment. I was lost for words. Did the killing of war mean the murdering of the same man over and over again? I leaned against a tree far from the sounds of battle, alone with my thoughts. Then it dawned on me, that in the end those men being killed by my bayonet turned out to be me.

From that day forward, each  face of  the slain soldiers, kept coming back into my dreams.  It was to my horror, that their faces flashed  into my face, time after time.  It a was nightmare from hell.
On the morning after such a dream, with a clear head, I realized that the joke of war was on me. What if I dropped my weapon, and the rebels did the same, we could walk together and shake hands. In my moment of insanity, I foolishly dropped my gun and walked toward the rebel lines, when suddenly an enemy bullet took me to the ground with a wound to the head. I was groggy for a short bit, then I regained my vision and consciousness. I realized, that I had been wounded, it was in an instant, when I turned into a raging bull, wanting to kill again. The men around me, felt my anger and they charged alongside of me toward the rebel line. We took no prisoners. The code of war hates a coward, but the reason(s) for war break many codes.

All I want is to return to my “home sweet home.”

The account and descriptions are fictitious, although such an experience could have taken place during the Civil War.

I wrote this piece in honor of those who have served our nation.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr — Sees the Light of Day


Teddy at the age of 11.



Theodore Roosevelt’s last words in his final moments were to his valet, “Turn out the light.” He died sometime during the night of pulmonary embolism. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was an American statesman, author, explorer, and naturalist, who served as the 26th President of the United States from 1901-1908. During his years in office he greatly expanded the power of the presidency. He had many accomplishments and served the nation in many capacities; President of N.Y.C. Board of Police Commissioners, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 33rd Governor of New York, 25th Vice President of the U.S., and the 26th President of the U.S.
Roosevelt was born a sickly child, and was home schooled as a result of a debilitating asthma. As a child he was called, “Teedie” to distinguish him from his father, Theodore Sr. It wasn’t until his college days that he was called “Teddy” by his college friends at Harvard University. His father worked for Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War to help improve the conditions of Union soldiers and their families.

Lincoln Funeral Procession, N.Y.C. April 25, 1865.

American presidents are influenced by all sorts of early experiences, but rarely are they captured in a photograph firsthand. History is full of coincidences, and the Civil War is no exception. In the 1950, Stefan Lorant, was researching a book on Abraham Lincoln when he came across an image of the President’s funeral procession as it moved down Broadway in New York City. The photo was dated April 25, 1865. The coincidence might have ended there, but upon a closer look, peering from a second floor window were two young boys. The house was the property of Cornelius van Schaack Roosevelt, the grandfather of future President Teddy Roosevelt and his brother Elliot. Lorant  wanted to verify his theory that Teddy and Elliot were the boys in the window. When he had the rare opportunity to confirm his finding; he spoke with Teddy’s widowed wife, Edith Roosevelt. Edith recollected, “…as I looked down from the window and saw the black draping, I became frightened and started to cry. Theodore and Elliot were both there. ..” An early camera caught a future president watching a dead one

Teddy and Eliot are peering from the second floor window watching the Lincoln funeral procession on April 25,1865. Teddy was at the age of seven.

As “Teedie” watched the remains of the president paraded past silent crowds and beating drums; he may have felt a kindle of inspiration and kinship with Lincoln’s greatness. His unfettered feelings were built from a mutual kinship; both had a fire of deep seeded ambition complemented with an undying resolution to strive for greatness. On that sobered day, Lincoln’s death  lit a fire under that seven year old lad,  that reflected Roosevelt’s  desire to emulate Lincoln.

For Roosevelt’s future adult life, he desired to serve his country. His personal flame of inspiration lit a path to a better life for many Americans. At the time of his death, his last request turned out the light; although by contrast the writings about Lincoln and Roosevelt have become a beacon of light to all. Their past lives have continued to be an example for all Americans to follow.



He along with the other faces of Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson look out from Mount Rushmore, as they remain as a source patriotism for us all.  In a bit of irony, the stone chiseled face of Roosevelt stares into the eyes of his childhood hero.







Clara Barton: An Angel of the Battlefield


Clara Barton: An Angel of the Civil War Battlefield

Clara Barton founded the Red Cross in 1881.

Clara Barton was born on December 25, 1821, in Oxford, Massachusetts. She became a teacher, worked in the U.S. Patent Office and was an independent nurse during the Civil War. As a result of her war experiences, she founded the American Red Cross in 1881, and became its first president.

Clara Barton –the young nurse.

Following the outbreak of the Civil War, she independently organized relief for the wounded, often bringing her own supplies to the front lines. Her service to country began on April 19, 1861 when the Baltimore Riot, a civil protest between antiwar” Copperheads” Democrats, as well as Southern/Confederate sympathizers clashed in a violent, hostile action with the Massachusetts Militia. It produced the first death by hostile action in the American Civil War. The injured victims of the militia were transported to Washington D.C. after the violence, which happened to be Clara Barton’s home at the time. Barton went to the railroad station when the victims arrived and nursed about 40 men.
It was on that day that she identified herself with army work and began her efforts towards collecting medical supplies for the Union soldiers. In 1864, during one of her more harrowing experiences there was an incident in which a bullet tore through the sleeve of her dress without striking her and killed a man to whom she was tending in her arms. She was named, an “Angel of the Battlefield” by her supporters. She served troops at the battles of Fairfax Station, Chantilly, Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Charleston, Petersburg, and Cold Harbor.


Composite photo courtesy of the author

Matthew Brady photographed Colonel John Elwell and Clara Barton in Washington D.C. U.S. Army hospital in background.



In 1863, she began a romantic relationship with an officer, Colonel John J. Elwell. Union Brevet Brigadier General Elwell was a physician and an attorney. He met Clara Barton in Charleston, South Carolina in 1863, and they became inseparable companions, although he was a married man. For years and years after the war, Barton kept his photo on her desk for the rest of her life. Elwell wrote in a letter some years after the war: “I loved you to the extent that the law allowed… and perhaps a little more.”

Clara Barton age 76 in 1897

Clara Barton achieved widespread recognition for founding the American Red Cross, the Office of Missing Soldiers, and the First Aid Society. She continued to live in her Glen, Echo, Maryland home which served as the Red Cross Headquarters.

Barton published her autobiography in 1907, titled: The Story of My Childhood. On April 12, 1912, at the age of 92, she died at her home from tuberculosis.

Clara never married,she chose independence and medical work to the more common  domestic life.  Her calling to the aid of injured soldiers created the  profession of nursing and a new career path  for women.


The Children of Lincoln


Wedding Day: November 4, 1842, Parents of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd – excepting Ann Parker.


The Lincoln Family consisted of Abraham Lincoln and his  wife, Mary Todd, and their four sons in order of birth; Robert Todd (1843-1926), Edward Baker (1846-1850), William Wallace (1850-1862) and Thomas, “Tad,” III  (1853-1871).

Robert Todd Lincoln, 1843-1926

Robert Todd Lincoln was Abraham and Mary’s oldest son and the only one to survive into adulthood. After completing his undergrad degree, he received a commission as a captain in the U.S. army, serving in U.S. Grant’s personal staff. He didn’t see much combat, although he did get a view of history, Robert was present as part of Grant’s junior staff at Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House.

The most incredible series of events in Robert’s life were difficult for him to understand. He questioned:  why was I connected to all three events?    He was connected to  the assassination of three U.S. Presidents. In 1881, he became Secretary of War to newly inaugurated James A. Garfield. He stood and witnessed the shooting of President Garfield by one Charles Guiteau. Twenty years later in 1901, Lincoln traveled to Buffalo at the invitation of President William McKinley to attend the Pan Am Exposition. Robert was on his way to meet the President McKinley when anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot the president twice at close range.
Finally, and  most traumatic, Robert was invited in April of 1865 to Ford’s Theater to see “Our American Cousin,” of which he declined.   Robert Todd did not witnessed the shooting of his father, although he was at his father’s bedside until he passed away the next morning.

On the brighter side, he was appointed as Secretary of War under Garfield and Chester A. Arthur,  and had a four year term as minister to Great Britain under President Benjamin Harrison. He made his fortune as general counsel to the Pullman Palace Car Company, and later became its president. He lived out his life living in Manchester, Vermont.

Edward Baker Lincoln-1846-1850

Little is known about the Lincoln’s second son, Edward “Eddie” Baker who died a month before his fourth birthday. Using modern medical knowledge, it is suggested that he died from thyroid cancer. Eddie’s thick, asymmetric lower lip is a sign of the cancer. Eddie was buried at Hutchinson’s Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois.



William Wallace Lincoln, 1850-1862

William Wallace, “Willie” Lincoln was the third son of the Lincoln’s. He was named after Mary’s brother-in-law, Dr. William Wallace. Willie and Tad became ill in early 1862 while in the White House. Willie’s condition worsened, he had contracted typhoid fever from drinking contaminated water from the Potomac River. Willie gradually weakened, as his parents spent endless hours at his bedside. On Thursday, February 20, 1862, at 5:00 p.m. Willie died. Abraham said, “My poor boy. He was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so much. It is hard, hard to have him die!”

Thomas “Tad” Lincoln III, 1853-1871

Thomas “Tad” Lincoln III was the fourth and youngest son of the Lincoln’s. Tad was born with a form of cleft lip and palate, causing him speech problems throughout his life. He had a lisp and delivered his words rapidly and unintelligibly. For example, he called his father “Papa Day” instead of “Papa Dear.” During the time his father was alive, Tad was impulsive, unrestrained, and did not attend school, numerous tutors for Tad quit in frustration.

After the death of his father, Tad said, “…Pa is dead. I can hardly believe that I will never see him again….I must learn to take care of myself now. … I am not a president’s son now… ”

On Saturday morning, July 15, 1871,  Tad Lincoln died at the age of 18. The cause of death has been variously referred to as tuberculosis, a pleuristic attack, pneumonia, or congestive heart failure. Lincoln’s death occurred at the Clifton House hotel in Chicago.
The Lincoln’s made an unforgettable impression on the American people by being a living  example of a kind, loving, and considerate family.

Civil War Horses: Life and Death of a War Horse


Civil War Horses: Life and Death of a War Horse

General Lee on Traveller at the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863.

Although the soldiers of the Civil War realized that the horse was the backbone of the Northern and Southern army; many readers of history have lost sight of their contribution to the war effort. Mounts of famous generals became almost as well-known as their riders ; among others, U.S. Grant’s Cincinnati, Lee’s Traveller, Stonewall Jackson’s Little Sorrell, Phillip Sheridan’s Rienze, , George G. Meade’s Old Baldy (wounded five times in battle) to name the most famous. By contrast and of less renown were the “War Horses” that moved caissons, guns, ambulances, cavalry, and messages between and during battles. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), soldiers preferred to shoot and kill horses rather than enemy combatants, because without horses, artillery became passive objects of heavy metal and without mounts the swift cavalryman was reduced to a foot soldier now powerless to scout, locate, and strike the enemy and its supply lines. Sharpshooters were ordered to take away the horse, it stripped the enemy of two of its major forces for combat, cavalry and artillery, leaving only disadvantaged infantry to carry the brunt of the battle.
During the conflict it is estimated that between one million and three million equines died, including horses, mules, donkeys, and even confiscated children’s ponies. It was estimated that the horse causalities at the Battle of Gettysburg alone, July 1 to July 3, 1863, exceeded 3,000. Diaries and letters of soldiers often mentioned the stench of dead steeds rising up from the killing fields.

Dead Horses after the three day Battle at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863.

An account of an event at Gettysburg, General Gibbons of the Union army made an observation for all to hear:
“One thing which forcibly occurred to me was the perfect quiet with which the horses stood in their places. Even when a shell, strong in the midst of a team, would knock over one or two of them or hurl on struggling in its death agonies to the ground, the rest would make no effort to struggle or escape but would stand stolidly by as if saying to themselves It is fate, it is useless to try and avoid it. “
The horses that died from gunfire or artillery shells were the more fortunate ones. The majority suffered a much more cruel death. Many were simply ridden to death, either due to the exigencies of battle or to poor judgement by cavalry riders. Some were worn down over time, became sick and lame, and were shot or abandoned.
Feeding the horses was always a big issue. The feed ration for a horse was 14 lbs. of hay and 12 lbs. of grain per day. Multiply that by the hundreds of horses in a unit and you can see the logistical problem required to garner 800,000 lbs. of feed each day to maintain their horses. It was an overwhelming task and forced the army to languish the farms and towns to find horse feed.

General John F. Reynolds at the rear was exhalting  the charge of the Union light brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863. He was shot in the head and died that day.

In most cases, generals rode horses and didn’t walk. The horse provided added height, enabling them to see their men on the battlefield. In addition, the mounted the officers’ voices carried  as they commanded in the field while at the same time the sight of the commander majestically poised on his horse gave the soldiers a symbol of bravery and honor.

Finally, one clause in the surrender terms at Appomattox reflected on the importance of the War Horse.   Every Confederate cavalryman was entitled to take his horse home with him. This provision, insisted on by General Lee, was accepted by General Grant when he was told that once the soldiers returned to civilian life, they needed the “War Horse,” to plow the fields and plant spring crops.




:   every Confederate cavalryman was entitled to take his horse home with him. This provision, insisted on by General Lee, was accepted by General Grant when he was told that once the soldiers returned to civilian life, they needed the “War Horse,” to plow the fields and plant spring crops.