Political cartoons were a popular source of information during the Civil War and created an excellent way to disperse a political or social opinion to a wide audience. The Lesson in this Unit features almost twenty political cartoons ranging from 1860-1868 that capture the spirit of the Civil War and help students to learn the multiple opinions and perspectives of those living through it.
The topics of the cartoons were relevant to people of the time, and they illustrate the multiple perspectives present during a very conflicting time in US history. They also help us develop an understanding of what would be considered the “popular culture” before, during, and after the Civil War. These images make it very apparent how divided the nation was beginning with the election of President Abraham Lincoln. On the flip side, the images continue to portray a nation that is unwilling to break and a union with the will to survive.
By examining the cartoons, students will be asked to think critically about the author’s point of view in order to gain a deeper understanding of the topics portrayed.