This 1865 print offers satirical commentary on the Buchanan administration and the beginning of the war. In the center, stand the allegorical figures of Liberty, wearing a Phrygian cap and holding an American flag, and Justice, who angrily raises up her sword and balance. Liberty stands on top of broken chains and a whips, a reference to abolition. Abraham Lincoln stands to Liberty’s left, accompanied by General Winfield Scott. Lincoln orates to a crowd of concerned Northerners – the men pour out coins at his feet while the women are reduced to tears. To the lower left of Liberty, President Buchanan sleeps, his untouched quill and inkwell left untouched before him. His Secretary of War, John B. Floyd, who had been accused of misappropriating government funds, greedily shovels coins into a sack. Behind these two men, an unruly mob of Southerners tear at an American flag held by Jefferson Davis, whose Vice-President, Alexander Stevens, stands beside him. Above this crowd, a crowned serpent has coiled itself around a palmetto tree and spits venom in the face of Justice, comparing the actions of the secessionists below to the biblical Fall of Man. In the background at left, smoke-shrouded armies clash and Fort Sumter fires its cannon, but to the right, a new sun rises over mountains, illuminating a prosperous city.
Christopher Kimmel was born in Germany around 1850 and after immigrating to the United States, was active in New York City from 1850 to 1876. He was part of Capewell & Kimmel from 1853 to 1860, and then partnered with Thomas Forster in 1865, forming the lithography firm of Kimmel & Forster, which was active until 1871. This print was followed by a sequel, “The End of the Rebellion in the United States, 1865,” also in the NMAH’s America on Stone Collection.
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