Civil War  |  Primary Source

Butler Hanged, the Negro Freed

Butler Hanged, the Negro Freed (1863)


Butler Hanged, the Negro Freed (1863)


This political cartoon illustrates the response of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis to the question of what to do with "contrabands," slaves who had escaped into the Union lines. In 1861, Union general Benjamin Butler began accepting escaped slaves into his camp as "contrabands of war" after discovering that the Confederacy was using slaves to help their war effort. In this cartoon, Jefferson Davis scowls as he condemns Butler, but Lincoln is inspired to write the Emancipation Proclamation, using the contraband issue to justify the Proclamation.