History Gallery

Antique Prints Autographs Rare Books Connecticut Law
Maps Miscellaneous Newspapers & Magazines Historical Memorabilia Political
  World War I Posters   World War II Posters  

HOME       About Us




Abraham Lincoln Civil War Caricature

"UP A TREE," Colonel Bull and the Yankee 'Coon

 January 11, 1862

This famous political cartoon of Abraham Lincoln treed by the English symbol John Bull arose out of the Mason and Slidell affair that threatened war between America and Great Britain. While the country and many prominent politicians in the United States did not want to return the Confederate emissaries seized from a British ship, Lincoln's sage advise ("One war at a time.") prevailed and he returned the prisoners. Rufus Wilson explains in a narrative included with the print that is provided below.

From Lincoln in Caricature by Rufus Rockwell Wilson

 Tenniel’s cartoon, Up a Tree—-Colonel Bull and the Yankee ‘Coon, which appeared in London Punch on January 11, 1862, one of his first caricatures of the President, was prompted by an incident which for a time threatened an end to peaceful relations between the United States and Great Britain. The artist inspired by the summary and as it proved unwarranted capture by Commander Wilkes of the Confederate envoys Mason and Slidell, bound for England and France on a British vessel, and having in mind Davy Crockett’s familiar story of Colonel Scott and the ‘Coon, depicts that animal with the head of Mr. Lincoln crouched on the limb of a friendly tree, and gazing furtively down on John Bull, armed with a blunderbuss and about to fire, when the following dialogue ensues:

“‘Coon—”Air you in arnest, colonel?”

  Colonel Bull—”I am.”

 ‘Coon—”Don’t fire—I’ll come down.”

The point of view of this cartoon is one of contemptuous ridicule but as a matter of fact the wise and ample apology which Mr. Lincoln, moved by a sense of what was fair and right, wrung from a short-sighted and reluctant cabinet, softened asperity and cleared the way to an understanding of a becoming sort; and it is pleasant to recall that the issue of Punch in which Tenniel’s savage caricature appeared also included a group of verses charged with good nature and lively hope for an early settlement of the pending dispute.

Punch's exceptional political cartoons were widely known in America and often copied, sometimes many years later, without attribution. An example is the copy of this cartoon published in Leslie's illustrated news magazine in 1872 with President Ulysses S. Grant playing the role of Lincoln and his challenger Horace Greeley in the role of John Bull.

Below is the original full page political cartoon of Abraham Lincoln published in 1862 as it will come to you matted and enclosed in a protective plastic sleeve.

Price: $55/SOLD