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Abraham Lincoln Civil War Caricature

September 27, 1862

From Lincoln in Caricature by Rufus Rockwell Wilson

 The cartoon, The Overdue Bill, similar in spirit to the one just described, appeared in London Punch on September 27, 1862—five days after Mr. Lincoln gave the Emancipation Proclamation to the country, an edict which opened a new era in the world’s history. The drawing shows Mr. Lincoln seated at a desk, with hands, as usual, thrust into his pockets, glancing uneasily at a paper inscribed, "I promise to subdue the South in ninety days—-Abe Lincoln,’’ held out to him by a Confederate soldier, who says: “Your ninety days’ promissory note isn’t taken up yet, sirree!’’

 Perhaps it would have been more fitting had Punch made the always hopeful Seward the central figure in this cartoon, for it was Mr. Lincoln’s secretary of state, and not the President himself who in 1861 was loudest in proclaiming that the war would end within three months. It is due to Seward to record that when in after years he was questioned by a friend as to the reasons which prompted this famous prediction of his, he at first declined to give an answer, but finally said with some reluctance that he believed at the time that if the South did not yield in ninety days the North would!

 As a matter of fact the belief that the North would quickly master the South was one confidently cherished by many of Mr. Lincoln’s supporters in the first days of the war. Union defeat at Bull Run, unexpected and disastrous, was the first blow to this belief. It was further impaired in 1862 by McClellan’s luckless campaign before Richmond and by Second Bull Run. Meanwhile, Mr. Lincoln pushed his patient, determined search for a general who could compel success, a general on whom he could rely and on whom he could throw the full responsibility of operations in the fields. Scott, whose past had been a glorious one, failed him because he was old and infirm; McClellan failed him because, although a masterly maker of armies, he faced the enemy with fear and reluctance, and Halleck, when summoned from the West as the right man for the place avoided responsibility as he would the plague, and speedily proved that he was little more than a capable clerk, who could take but could not give orders.

 The war, however, went on and in March, 1864, the appointment to supreme command of General Grant, a man who said little but did things, cleared the way for Appomattox and final victory.

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