The Two Platforms - Columbia Makes Her Choice

1864 Election


While she has been largely replaced by "Lady Liberty," Columbia was a common nickname for the United States of America in the 18th and 19th centuries.In the following political cartoon, published on December 1, 1864 in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Columbia is offered the choice between a United States under the leadership of the two presidential candidates in the 1864 election.  She must decide whether to navigate the "Abyss of War" via the path offered by Abraham Lincoln or General George B. McClellan, while French emperor Napoleon III and John Bull (Great Britain) offer opinions.  Notice that Columbia is the bearer of American principles such as the "Rights of Man," the "Constitution," and "Laws" and that the American Eagle takes refuge in her shadow.


Signpost: "The only way to Union-City is through War."

Lincoln's Plank: "Union Plank.  All of one piece."

McClellan's Plank: "War Democracy  (worm eaten)  Peace Democracy"

Lincoln:  "Don't trust that rickety old concern, Madam- It's unsound and will come in-two before you are half way over."

McClellan: "This way Columbia.  There's never danger where I lead!"

Napoleon III: "Go via dis leetle man ma'am.  Ve recommend him."

John Bull: "I hope she'll take Little Mac's road.  I should like to see her come to grief."


Discussion Questions- Make sure to use specific examples from the image to support your answers.

1.  When was this political cartoon created?  What important events are occurring at this time? 

2.  Who is the audience?

3.  What is the artist's message? His purpose?

4.  How does he get his point across?

5.  How do the current events play a part in the message that is being sent using this political cartoon?

6.  Are there biases or stereotypes portrayed?