Lincoln: The Image

The Anti-Lincoln Image

Beloved in death, Abraham Lincoln remained controversial throughout his presidency. The constant outpouring of anti-Lincoln printmaking provides convincing testimony of a partisanship that did not diminish even in the wake of a national crisis.

The greatest caricaturist of the day was located in the enemy's camp. Adalbert Johann Volck (1828-1912) was a Bavarian-born etcher who fled from the failed German Revolution of 1848. Immigrating first to St. Louis and Boston, Volck landed in Baltimore, a city awash in anti-Union sentiment, on the eve of the Civil War. Volck demonstrated his loyalty to his adopted South by becoming a Rebel spy, blockade runner, smuggler, and personal courier for Jefferson Davis.

Other anti-Lincoln prints of the day, though typically less inspired, were far more widely circulated. The Lincoln administration's policies on civil liberties and emancipation had unleashed a torrent of critical caricature. 

These images illustrate the anti-Lincoln sentiment of the day.