Abraham Lincoln is one of America’s quintessential westerners. But Lincoln owed much of his political success, and enshrinement in public memory, to his impact on New York, and in turn, New York’s impact on him.
While New York’s publishers, business leaders, elected officials, writers, preachers, and editors were able convincingly to introduce positive images of Lincoln, at the same time they promulgated a parallel, wholly negative Lincoln reputation – that of frontier hick, jokester, ruthless military leader, and heartless tyrant – constitututing one of the most astonishing episodes in the history of what Lincoln himself once called ‘public sentiment’.
Below, taken from our book Lincoln and New York, are some examples of the negative PR campaigns that were launched and sustained in tandem.
Click a thumbnail to begin the slideshow.
Michael Angelo Woolf (1837-99), ‘Good, my lord; what is the cause of your distemper?’ [James Gordon Bennett], 1860. Lithograph (24 x 8.41 cm)
Artist unknown, Storming the Castle ‘Old Abe’ on Guard, 1860. Lithograph (27.15 x 38.10cm)
Artist unknown, The Great Exhibition of 1860, 1860. Lithograph (21.60 x 40.32)
C.A.L. The Commander-in-Chief Conciliating the Soldier’s Votes on the Battle Field, 1864. Etching (27.95 x 41.91cm)
Artist unknown, ‘The National Joker. Salary 25,000 Dollars Per Annum’, Published in The Funniest of Phun, April 1, 1864.
Artist unknown, ‘The Nigger’ in the Woodpile, 1860. Lithograph 22.86 x 35
Artist unknown. An Heir to the Throne, or The Next Republican Candidate, 1860. Lithograph (28.10 x 24.13cm)
Artist unknown. The Lincoln Statue. In Lincoln Square, Wahington, D.C., Unveiled April 14th 1876, 1876. Lithograph (31.75 x 22.54cm)
Artist unknown. Freedom to the Slaves…, ca. !865. Lithograph (29.85 x 21.90cm)
Artist unknown. Northern Coat of Arms, 1864. Lithograph (28.60 x 23.50 cm)
Artist unknown. The Rail Candidate, 1860. Lithograph (24.77 x 37.28 cm)
Artist unknown. Honest Abe Taking Them on the Half Shell, 1860. Lithograph (36.30 x 23.02 cm)
Artist unknown. ‘Masks and Faces: King Abraham Before and After Issuing the Emancipation Proclamation’. Wood engraving, published in Southern Illustrated News, November 8, 1862.
Artist unknown. ‘The President’s Inaugural’. Wood engraving, published in New York Illustrated News, March 23, 1861.
John Cameron (b. Ca. 1828), Running the ‘Machine’, 1864. Lithograph (24.77 x 34.77 cm)
Top image shows Abraham Lincoln boxing with Jefferson Davis [Morse, 1861. Woodcut, 50.32 x 54.93 cm]