On this day in 1861, the British humor magazine Punch published the above cartoon, by John Tenniel.
In an arena formed of cotton bales, President Lincoln (still shown as clean-shaven) and the newly-elected President of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis, square off as gladiators before an audience comprised of black slaves, one of whom sits in imperial state [cf. April 29, 1865]. The caption’s reference to “Emperor Caesar” may be ironically intended, as Caesar was a popular slave name.
The two combatants are armed with Bowie knives rather than the Roman gladius short swords. Each also has a pistol tucked into his belt, reflecting European perceptions about American violence and lawlessness (in many countries it was illegal for ordinary citizens to carry firearms). Lincoln holds a shield emblazoned with a representation of the national flag of the United States, while Davis’ shield bears the “Stars and Bars” flag […]
Tenniel was the original illustrator of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and helped to invent the modern political cartoon.