Early American Political Cartoons

October 20th, 2005 by ClickSchooling Leave a reply »

Recommended Website:
America in Caricature: 1765-1865

This website, sponsored by the Lilly Library, offers an online exhibition of political cartoons done in caricatures — pictures of a person or thing drawn with gross exaggeration of its most characteristic features. The idea is to express satire and criticism of political and social agendas, especially during times of discontent or upheaval. While caricatures are always accompanied by text, it is secondary to the portrait that conveys the meaning through imagery intended to provoke a response from the viewer. The political cartoons in this exhibit depict times of turbulence in American history ranging from the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812 and then to the presidential elections of 1860 and 1864 which brought Abraham Lincoln to the White House.

As ClickSchooling list member MaryAnna said when she recommended the site, “See Abe Lincoln win the presidential race because of his long legs! See the Union map being unsuccessfully glued back together prior to the Civil War! See it all through the eyes of folks who were actually there. Great stuff! :)”

When you get to the site you will see a brief introduction and a menu below it that includes:

  • About Caricatures — Read the fascinating history of this art form.
  • The War of 1812 — View the cartoons and read the text to get a feel for what satirists were trying to convey at the time.
  • The Colonial Years — Caricatures of The Stamp Act and its repeal, and the “Bloody Massacre” also known as “The Boston Massacre.”
  • Abraham Lincoln 1860-1865 — Political cartoonists depict the elections of 1860 and 1864, as well as The Civil War.

This website provides a brief, but fascinating look at early American history through the eyes of talented illustrators with specific political views. It’s a great adjunct to any study of early American history — probably geared more for middle school students and up.


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