Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln

New Catalog & Recent Acquisitions

William Penn became the largest private landowner in the world when Charles II granted him the 45,000 square miles of what is now Pennsylvania in 1681. An early champion of religious freedom, Penn also was among the few Europeans to deal fairly with the original inhabitants of his lands. Nevertheless, his royal charter conflicted with earlier lands deeded to Lord Baltimore, prompting a survey that resulted in the iconic Mason-Dixon Line dividing Maryland and Pennsylvania. We have just posted a new catalog on our website with early Pennsylvania deeds and grants, important maps, and documents related to the border dispute.

You can view the online catalog here.
Additionally, we have added a number of other items to our website. Here are some highlights:
Thomas Paine’s First “Enlarged Version” of Common Sense 
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its 
best state is but a necessary evil

Furious when his original publisher printed an unauthorized edition, Paine engaged a cross-town rival to print an expanded version of his Revolutionary pamphlet. Among the new content was Paine’s first use of the phrase, “the Free and Independent States of America.
#23049       $68,000
Andrew Jackson Discusses Politics, Family, and Horse Racing
An insightful letter from Andrew Jackson as president, discussing the official business of appointing a competent Indian agent, and then moving on to family matters, a discussion of horse racing, and rebuilding his recently-burned home, the Hermitage.
#23213.01     $9,500
A New Map of the United States Reflecting
the 1840 Census Returns and Westward Expansion 
This 1841 edition of the 1829 Tanner map shows considerable Westward expansion with particular detail of the Independent Republic of Texas.
#22139      $30,000
Grand Requiem March 
A beautifully-illustrated piece of sheet music memorializing the late president.
#22351.06     $295
The First Book of Detailed Road Maps to the New Federal Capital 
This rare guide, only the second American book of road maps, ties together three cities that served as early U.S. capitals: Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C. The authors note landmarks and points of interest, key buildings, and a description of the new federal city including notes on the Capitol and President’s House.
#21163.99      $14,000
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in General


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An unparalleled offering of presidential commissions—from Thomas Jefferson to
Abraham Lincoln—covering the most significant career advances of Joseph G. Totten,
Chief Engineer of the U.S. Army, 
who fought with distinction in three wars.

This set of commissions, from an officer who served so long and contributed so much to American military preparedness in the run-up to the Civil War, is indeed a rare find.

Only Hyman Rickover, the “Father of the Nuclear Navy” served longer than Totten, at 63 years. General Winfield “Old Fuss and Feathers” Scott served 53 years, and generals such as Omar Bradley and Douglas MacArthur all served fewer than 50 years each.

Document Signed. Commission as 2nd Lieutenant of Engineers,
June 11, 1808. On vellum. 14¾ x 18 in.

Document Signed. Commission as 1st Lieutenant of Engineers,
March 9, 1811. On vellum. 15½ x 18 in.

Document Signed. Commission as Colonel of Engineers,
April 1, 1839. On vellum. 14 x 17¾ in.

Document Signed. Commission as Brevet Brigadier General,
August 23, 1848. On vellum. 14½ x 17 in.

Document Signed. Commission as Brigadier General of Engineers,
April 13, 1863. On vellum. 14¾ x 19½ in.

All in matching archival display frames. #23097.01-.05 The set: $48,000

Totten’s Career (with our commissions in bold)

In 1805, Joseph Gilbert Totten (1788-1864) of New Haven, Connecticut, graduated from West Point and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. He resigned in 1806 to serve as secretary to the Surveyor General of the Northwest Territory. In 1808, Thomas Jefferson reappointed him to his former rank, which began his nearly 56 years of military service (55 years and 10 months, in addition to the 2 years he had already served).

Totten’s career in the Corps of Engineers spanned the development of the United States’ coastal defense program. He helped construct New York’s harbor defenses and supervised the construction of Fort Clinton in Castle Garden (now Battery Park), 1808-1812. James Madison promoted Totten to 1st lieutenant in 1811 just before the War of 1812.

Madison again promoted Totten, this time to captain, where he was supervising engineer for the fortification of Lake Champlain, the St. Lawrence River, and other coastal defenses. He served in operations on Lake Champlain, the Niagara and St. Lawrence Rivers, and the Great Lakes. He helped capture Fort George in Upper Canada (Ontario), repel the British Fleet on Lake Ontario, took part in the Battle of Plattsburg, and blew up the abandoned Fort Erie, also in Upper Canada. Still under Madison’s presidency, Totten was breveted major in 1813, and lieutenant colonel in 1814, for meritorious service and gallantry, respectively.Lincoln detailPGPresident James Monroe promoted Totten to major in 1818, and breveted Totten colonel in 1824. John Quincy Adams promoted Totten to lieutenant colonel in 1828. Between 1825 and 1838, Totten supervised the construction of Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island, (now the site of the world-famous Newport Jazz Festival).

In 1838, Martin Van Buren gave Totten one of his most important commissions to full colonel and Chief Engineer of the Army. Totten continued to build shore defenses and harbor works as well as with the drydocks at the Pensacola Navy Yard. Totten then served under General Winfield Scott at the Siege of Vera Cruz (1847) during the Mexican-American War. President Polk marked Totten’s advancement to a generalship when he awarded him the rank of brevet brigadier general for “gallant and meritorious conduct” in the battle.

Minot's Ledge Light

Minot’s Ledge Light

In 1851, he joined the lighthouse board and began reforming notoriously dangerous designs. His most notable design achievement was rebuilding Boston Harbor’s Minot’s Ledge Light, considered the “most wave-swept structure in North America,” after the first lighthouse was destroyed in spectacular fashion with the loss of both lighthouse keepers. Totten designed a granite-constructed tower, with its first forty feet serving as a massive anchor block attached to the ledge with iron pins and its own enormous weight. It took five years to construct (1855-1860) and stands to this day.

During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln made the breveted rank permanent by promoting Totten to full brigadier general in 1863. As chief engineer of the army, Totten helped plan the defense of Washington, D.C., including construction of Fort Totten, now a D.C. neighborhood. Totten was breveted a major general for “long, faithful, and eminent services” on April 21, 1864, one day before he died.

Fort Totten-LoC-03723v-550px

100 lb. Parrott gun at Fort Totten in Washington, D.C., August 1865

In addition to his military achievements, Totten was a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, a Corporator of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Harbor Commissioner of both Boston and New York. Three forts bore his name: Fort Totten in Queens, New York, Washington, D.C., and North Dakota.

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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in General


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President’s Day


Regardless of their individual place in history, “President of the United States” is a very exclusive club. In honor of President’s Day, we are featuring inventory related to our greatest presidents as well as some presidents of more modest accomplishment. Be sure to see our signed portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt from his 1932 presidential campaign, an extremely rare William Henry Harrison document signed during his 30-day presidency, a Lincoln-signed military commission, a letter from Warren Harding praising America’s post World War I return to a peacetime economy, and a bronze plaque of Theodore Roosevelt featuring his famous “strenuous life” quotation.

All of these, and much more presidential material, can be found on our website,


John Adams Grants Two Tracts of Ohio Land to a Revolutionary War Veteran
Passed on June 1, 1796, An Act regulating the grants of Land appropriated for Military services, and for the society of the United Brethren propagating the gospel among the Heathen made accommodations to survey and sell land in the Northwest Territory. This particular act enabled the President to grant land in the Ohio Valley to former Continental Army soldiers for their service in the Revolutionary War.
#22734   $7,500


John Adams Agrees to Give Benjamin Franklin Guardianship Over a Boston Minister’s Grandson
The relationship between the United States and France takes a personal turn as Adams leaves a friend’s grandson in Franklin’s care.
#22884   $26,000


John Quincy Adams Signs a Patent for Improving Bellows
A handsome vellum patent document, signed by Adams as President, is accompanied by the inventor’s two-page description of his device.
#21830   $3,000

Andrew Jackson and the Fight for Florida
At the height of the U. S. diplomatic crisis with Spain over Florida, Old Hickory makes plans to return to combat in Florida while venting his rage against Treasury Secretary William H. Crawford.
#21944.99   $25,000

Van Buren Handles an Early Falklands Crisis
In this detailed letter, Martin Van Buren instructs the United States Chargé d’ Affairs to Buenos Aires to inquire into the Governor of the Falkland Islands’s warning U.S. fishing vessels to stay clear of valuable whaling and seal fisheries in the area.
#22216   $2,900


William Henry Harrison Signed as President—Extremely Rare
Harrison’s death from pneumonia after 3o days in office makes his tenure the shortest of all the presidents. Our current census finds fewer than 40 Harrison documents (including signed and unsigned letters, free franks, and clipped signatures) as president in any format, many of which are in permanent collections.
#22920   $145,000


Lincoln-Signed Military Commission
President Lincoln appoints Charles S. Stevenson of Indiana “Additional Paymaster” with this signed, vellum commission dated August 7, 1861.
#22382   $6,800

James Garfield Opposes “the Democratic Silver Scheme”
Congressman James Garfield writes to Samuel Ruggles, a New York lawyer, Canal Commissioner, and businessman regarding monetary policy. “We have thus far successfully resisted the Silver Scheme, but the Democrats renew the fight every day determined, if possible, to carry it through.
#22564.01   $1,500


Theodore Roosevelt Commissions a Captain
President Roosevelt  commissions John J. A. Clark as Captain in the Philippine Scouts, a group organized by the U.S. Army to combat the Philippine Revolution.
#22949   $1,500


Theodore Roosevelt’s “Doctrine of the Strenuous Life”: A Scarce Bronze Plaque Featuring One of His Most Famous Quotes
Roosevelt’s personal philosophy of life is cast in bronze under his profile portrait in bas relief, followed by a facsimile of his signature.
#22579   $1,750

Harding’s Return to Normalcy–and Isolationism–after World War I
Key political circular from the first-year Republican President, written to influence off-year elections in New Mexico and other places. Harding justifies, and praises, the rapid postwar dismantling of America’s military by Congress, while backhandedly criticizing the inattention of his predecessor—Woodrow Wilson—to the peacetime transition. “Vast expenditure without proper consideration for results, is the inevitable fruit of war.”
#21124   $2,600

Herbert Hoover Combats Starvation in Europe Before the U.S. Enters World War II
As honorary chairman of the National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies, the former president tries to rally support to aid the women, children, and destitute in those European nations affected by World War II and save them from the inevitable famine and pestilence that confronted them.
#22384   $750


Portrait of FDR, Signed and Inscribed by Roosevelt to Samuel Messer
This image of President Roosevelt was the official portrait for the 1932 campaign. It was drawn by Jacob H. Perskie, the photographer and portrait painter for FDR in the 1932 and 1936 presidential campaigns. It is inscribed to Samuel Messer was one of the largest stockholders of Quaker State Oil Refining Company.
#22467   $1,400

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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in General


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The Ultimate Oscar-Ready Lincoln Collection


We are offering a unique opportunity for one high-level collector with a passion for history—a comprehensive collection reflecting the span of Lincoln’s adult life from prairie lawyer, to the Presidency, to immortality in the American pantheon. This ready-to-display collection is being auctioned on eBay through February 18th, and is guaranteed to be delivered in time for the ultimate Oscar party.

Beginning with the chair in which Lincoln was sitting when he received the telegram that he had won the 1860 Republican Presidential nomination, the collection contains more than 50 items, including 12 documents handwritten and/or signed by Lincoln, and others by Frederick Douglass, William T. Sherman, and Ulysses S. Grant, along with rare books, artifacts, images, and imprints.

The winning bidder will also be helping Free the Slaves, which will receive 10% of the final sale price. The organization, based in the U.S. and operating around the world, works to free victims of modern-day slavery. Dr. Kevin Bales, the group’s co-founder, writes, “We are honored that Free the Slaves has been chosen to receive a portion of the proceeds from the auction… Our group will use the contribution to help finish what Lincoln started—creating a world forever free from slavery.”

Highlights and a brief summary of the collection are available on eBay and links to more detailed descriptions are on our website.

On Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, we will be hosting an open house at C. Parker Gallery, 17 E. Putnam Ave., Greenwich CT. Special showings are also available on request. Call me at 914-289-1776 or email me at

A special note from Seth Kaller
Last year, I joined the advisory board of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, based at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL. My first meeting coincided with the 10th annual Lincoln Legacy Lecture, where I saw a powerful keynote presentation on modern day slavery. Since then, I sought an opportunity to apply my interest in history to a significant problem that remains today. After several conversations, Free the Slaves was recommended to me as a fitting choice to further Lincoln’s most important legacy.

This collection inaugurates a new Seth Kaller, Inc. policy: for every sale we make of slavery-related historic documents, we will make a donation to Free the Slaves. If you would like to learn more visit

Seth Kaller

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Posted by on February 9, 2013 in General


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A NY Copperhead Newspaper Criticizes the Emancipation Proclamation


The first week of January, 1863 newspapers across the country printed the single most important act of Lincoln’s presidency, the Emancipation Proclamation. The President summed up the Proclamation’s importance in 1864: “no human power can subdue this rebellion without using the Emancipation lever as I have done.”

Confederates and their sympathizers in the north disagreed. The editors of the New York Journal of Commerce—which had begun as an abolitionist newspaper but under new ownership during the war became a notorious Copperhead organ—described Lincoln’s bold move as “a farce coming in after a long tragedy. . . . most of the people regard it as a very foolish piece of business.”

See this rare newspaper, published 150 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in General


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Great Gifts, FDR, and Lincoln


Great Gifts
Just in time for the holidays, we’ve selected a gift-worthy group of historic documents, maps, signed books, prints, and more! With prices ranging from less than $150 to more than $35,000, there’s something for anyone with a passion for history.

Franklin & Eleanor
The new film, Hyde Park on the Hudson, inspired us to update our list of Roosevelt-related signed documents and artifacts. Here, we offer a group of items ranging from a large signed wartime photograph of FDR to an important letter in which the First Lady defends her advocacy of civil rights. (If you’ve seen The Help, you will want to read this letter).

Collecting Lincoln
Since Abraham Lincoln is one of our specialties, we’ve noticed interest from first-time collectors sparked by Steven Spielberg’s magnificent film, Lincoln. For this online catalog, we’ve chosen items from our large collection of Lincoln and Civil War material that include everything from inexpensive issues of Harper’s Weekly and Currier & Ives political cartoons to unique original Lincoln letters, signed documents, and artifacts—even the chair in which he was sitting when he first learned he had received the Republican nomination for the presidency.

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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in General


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Writing and Reporting the Gettysburg Address

Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863. His words have persisted as a supreme distillation of American values despite his assertion that “the world will little note nor long remember what we say here.”

Many Americans believe Lincoln wrote the speech on the back of an envelope while riding the train to Gettysburg. This charming piece of fiction originated in Mary Shipman Andrews’s 1906 book, The Perfect Tribute. Two of Lincoln’s autograph manuscript drafts of the speech survive. Based on Lincoln’s schedule and the paper trail, historian Gabor Boritt concludes that Lincoln wrote the first part of the first draft in Washington and finished it that evening in Gettysburg. Boritt also concludes that Lincoln quickly wrote the second draft the next morning. The second draft may have been Lincoln’s reading copy, as it is closest to the words captured by reporters at the scene.

Lincoln surrounded himself with the press corps, reflecting the rise of news reporting as big business with the advent of the telegraph. Early Lincoln scholars thought that there were only four reporters on the scene, (Associated Press and New York Herald reporter Joseph Gilbert, Boston Daily Advertiser reporter Charles Hale, and reporters from the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Enquirer), but we now know that there were at least 23 additional reporters there, including many of Lincoln’s allies in the Republican press.

Known as “Lincoln’s dog,” Lincoln supporter and Philadelphia Press owner John Forney offered a pro-Lincoln rant the evening before the speech. Despite his intoxication, he was sober enough to wait for the slew of correspondents to arrive to take down his words.

The New York Herald received the Associate Press text by telegraph and published it the next day. More Americans learned of the speech through the AP text and its variants than any other source. When Lincoln penned his later copies, he was said to have referenced the AP report.

Detail from The World, New York, November 20, 1863, with the Associated Press version.

The text of the AP version and its slight variants (usually punctuation and capitalization) are easily identifiable by the use of the phrase “to the refinished work” instead of the more appropriate “to the unfinished work.” The AP version also omitted the word “poor” in the line The brave men living and dead who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our [poor] power to add or detract” even though multiple eyewitnesses recorded it and it was present in both of Lincoln’s manuscript drafts. In addition to the “poor” omission, the phrase “We are met to dedicate” is “We have come to dedicate” in Lincoln’s written copies. Moreover, Lincoln must have extemporaneously added “under God,” which he included in versions he penned after the fact.

Unsurprisingly, the AP version of Lincoln’s speech was the most widely distributed first-day printing of the text. However, many other newspapers had reporters in the field. Charles Hale, who worked the Boston Daily Advertiser, was an eyewitness copyist at Gettysburg. His newspaper published a morning edition that differed from the AP version, and despite his careful account, the paper nevertheless introduced two unique errors to the text. The Daily Advertiser omitted the word “little” before “note” and changed “forget” to “forbid” in the line: “The world will [little] note nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forbid [forget] what they did here.”

Headlines from the Philadelphia Press, November 20, 1863.

Neither the Boston Daily Advertiser nor the Boston Evening Transcript used the AP’s text, because both papers correctly quoted Lincoln as saying the nation had “unfinished work” instead of the AP’s “refinished work.” However, it appears that the Evening Transcript used some of the morning paper’s copy, because while correctly printing the much more sensible “forget” in place of “forbid,” the afternoon paper still left out the word “little” in exactly the same place. Other than that, the text from these two competing newspapers is nearly exact, except for a few commas. Ultimately, the speed with which first-day printings were produced, as well as the vagaries of nineteenth-century communications, produced many slightly unique versions of Lincoln’s words.

In addition to the AP omission of the word “poor,” the phrase “We are met to dedicate” is recorded as “We have come to dedicate” in Lincoln’s written copies, and the words “carried on,” found here and in Lincoln’s second draft, were replaced by Lincoln with “advanced” in subsequent copies. The Philadelphia Enquirer version of the text, picked up by Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper contains variations of familiar lines, most notably in the final two sentences regarding the nation’s unfinished work and closing phrase of “Government of the people, for the people, and for all people” rather than the more familiar “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

What has come down as the standard version of the Address was compiled from Lincoln’s drafts, reports of what he spoke at the time, and later revisions made by Lincoln himself, who kept tinkering with the text. In the year after the speech, he wrote out three additional versions for charitable purposes using the newspaper reports and his own drafts. The Edward Everett copy was intended as a fundraiser for the New York Metropolitan Fair and is now at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. George Bancroft requested a copy to lithograph and sell at the Baltimore Sanitary Fair. Lincoln agreed, but his first attempt (today known as the Bancroft copy) lacked both a title and signature, and ran into the margins. It is now in the collection of Cornell University. Because its lack of margins made it impractical to reproduce, Lincoln penned a second copy with both title and signature. This, known as the Bliss copy after Bancroft’s stepson, is at the White House. All three of these later copies more closely approximate the words that Lincoln actually spoke at the cemetery dedication. What is now considered the standard text in history textbooks and on the wall of the Lincoln Memorial is the last copy—the Bliss version—with slightly different comma placement.

Visit our website to see rare copies of first day of publication newspapers and other documents and artifacts relating to Lincoln and Gettysburg.

Engravings of the battlefield and dedication ceremony, from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in General


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“We both hate Slavery & love Peace . . .”

On October 27, 1861 Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner wrote to Quaker peace advocate and abolitionist Joshua P. Blanchard.

“My dear Sir, I always read you writings with interest & sympathy. We are both arriving at the same results; for we both hate Slavery & love Peace…”

Sumner was a leading abolitionist, intimate of Lincoln, and radical republican. Before the Civil War, he joined the ranks of abolitionism’s martyrs when he was savagely attacked on the floor of the Senate by Congressman Preston Brooks because of remarks that Sumner made about Brooks’ relative, Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina.

Blanchard was a Boston merchant who was active in the American Peace Society and American Anti-Slavery Society and was a frequent contributor to The Liberator and other publications. During the War of 1812 he was a conscientious objector and was tried in New York. He advocated mass conscientious objection during the Civil War and despite his moral objection to slavery wrote that the South had the legal right to secede.

See this letter, written 151 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in General


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The Emancipation Proclamation

Tomorrow marks the start of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. On September 22, 1862, President Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation that gave the South 100 days to end the rebellion or face losing their slaves. True to his word, on January 1, 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation immediately freeing nearly 50,000 slaves in Union-held areas of the Confederacy such as Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi and the Carolinas. The Proclamation also made the Union Army a force of liberation as it marched south, as well as ushering in the full participation of African American troops.

To celebrate this decisive moment in the quest for human freedom we have posted an essay on the history of the Emancipation Proclamation—from how it was drafted and promulgated, to the lasting effect it had on history.

We have also worked with the Fairfield Museum and History Center on their exhibit, Promise of Freedom: The Emancipation Proclamation, which includes Lincoln-signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment, as well as other fascinating artifacts. The exhibition runs from September 23, 2012 to February 24, 2013.

Although we recently sold a rare Lincoln-signed Leland-Boker broadside of the Emancipation Proclamation, we still have a group of interesting items to offer:

  • A front-page New York newspaper printing of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, published September 23, 1862.
  • Five key issues of Harper’s Weekly from the period, including their publication of both the Preliminary and final Emancipation Proclamations.
  • A. H. Ritchie’s 1866 print, “First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation,” from Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s 1864 painting at the White House.
  • A six-month run of Britain’s Punch magazine from 1862, with numerous engravings showing Lincoln’s frustration at the war’s progress.
  • A first-day printing of the Emancipation Proclamation in the Providence Daily Journal, along with Frederick Douglass’s reaction to the announcement in the next day’s issue.
  • A Lincoln mourning broadside, with the Emancipation Proclamation printed in full.
  • A Currier and Ives print, “Lincoln and His Cabinet Discuss the Emancipation Proclamation,” that memorialized the Great Emancipator in time for the nation’s 1876 Centennial.
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in General


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George McClellan Boxing with Robert E. Lee: Cartoon Celebrating the Union Victory at Antietam

This rare political cartoon celebrates the Union victory in the Battle of Antietam, by depicting the bloodbath as a boxing contest between Confederate General Robert E. Lee (labeled “Charles” Lee in reference to the Revolutionary War traitor) and Union General George McClellan. European leaders watch as Jefferson Davis exclaims “My Game is Up” and Abraham Lincoln encourages his champion to “Give him fits my darling!” The handlers are African Americans, and Lee appears ready to throw in the sponge. The printer is unspecified, but it was issued by Wilkes’ Spirit of the Times, a New York publication that appealed to upper class sports aficionados.

More details and a larger image are on our website.

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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in General


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