Arms of the United States of America

In 1864, Lincoln appointed Ulysses S. Grant to lead all Union armies, and reinvigorated under the General’s leadership and policy of total war, the Union armies launched numerous offensives against the Confederate armies in all of the war’s theaters. This print published that same year by J.H. Bufford provides a detailed allegory of the United States at war. The female personification of Liberty sits on a throne of clouds below the words “E Pluribus Unum” and an arc of 13 stars. She wears a Phrygian cap, and wields a sword, shield, and American flag. Below her, an eagle perches atop a shield decorated with stars and stripes, grasping arrows and an olive branch in its talons. To the left, a Native American warrior stands armed with a bow and tomahawk, extending his right hand. On the right, a sailor gripping an anchor gazes up at the figure of Liberty. At their feet lie cannons, rifles, swords, and other instruments of war. Below this symbolic arrangement, one can make out the U.S. Capitol, the Potomac River, and a camp of Union soldiers through the clouds.
This print was published by the lithographer John H. Bufford. The son of a sign painter and gilder, Bufford trained with Pendleton's Lithography in Boston, 1829-1831. He worked in New York with George Endicott and Nathaniel Currier (1835-1839) before returning to Boston where he developed a reputation for printing and publishing popular prints, commercial work, labels, and trade cards. The company went through several iterations and name changes until about 1865. He became the chief artist for Benjamin Thayer until buying out the firm to found J. H. Bufford & Co. (1844-1851). He continued to work in the lithography and publishing business for the remainder of his life. In 1865, his sons Frank and Henry John became partners in Bufford & Sons or J.H. Bufford’s Sons Litho. Co. After his death they continued the family business as Bufford Brothers and as Bufford Sons Engraving & Lithographing Company until 1911.
The artist of this work, Joseph E. Baker (1837-1914), began as an apprentice at J. H. Bufford & Co. in 1857. He eventually became James Bufford’s principal draftsman and illustrator of sheet music. He worked in NYC in 1860-1867 and specialized in portrait prints. During the Civil War he produced political cartoons and lithographs for Bufford. He later worked for Armstrong & Company, remaining active until 1888.
Currently not on view
Date made
Bufford, John Henry
graphic artist
Baker, Joseph E.
place made
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
ink (overall material)
paper (overall material)
image: 17 1/2 in x 13 1/4 in; 44.45 cm x 33.655 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Chronology: 1860-1869
Patriotism and Patriotic Symbols
Uniforms, Military
Civil War
Native Americans
related event
Civil War
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Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
NMAH Reception Suite
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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