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"Taking the Stump" or Stephen in Search of his Mother

Currier & Ives, University of Kentucky
New York
Origin Date:
overall: 17 1/2 in x 23 in
Item ID:
Holding Institution:
Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum
Available for Viewing:
Fine Art


This facsimile of an original 1860 political cartoon by Currier & Ives is a satire on Stephen Douglas's July 1860 campaign tour of upstate New York and New England. Here a double-entendre in the use of the word "stump," playing on its use as a colloquialism for both campaigning and a wooden leg. In the center Douglas, wearing a wooden leg, speaks with John Bell of Tennessee, Constitutional Union presidential candidate (far left), and influential Democrat Virginia governor Henry A. Wise. Douglas claims, "Gentlemen (I'm going to see my mother,' and solicit a little help, for in running after a nomination, I fell over a big lump of Breckenridge [rival Democratic candidate John C. Breckinridge], and have been very lame ever since." Bell remarks to Wise, "I think I'll give him a trifle in New York currency." Wise responds, "He looks like a smart little man, and if I were not Wise I'd go my pile on him." At right incumbent James Buchanan offers another stump to Breckinridge, his own favorite, saying, "Here Breck, as Dug has taken the stump you must stump it too." Breckinridge replies, "Well old Buck, if you say so, I suppose I must, but I know it will be of no use, for I feel that I have'nt got a leg to stand on." His right foot is bandaged, possibly a souvenir of his defeat by Douglas at the May Democratic Convention in Baltimore. Abraham Lincoln, leaning against a rail fence at the far right, declares confidently, "Go it ye cripples! wooden legs are cheap, but stumping wont save you." Additional copies of this cartoon are numbers 71.2009.081.0224 and 71.2009.081.0868. For more information on this cartoon, see "Lincoln Lore" number 1622, April, 1973, page 2. Part of the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum.