The Miscegenation Ball


This hand-colored print depicts a highly fictionalized account of a Republican campaign event dance that occurred at the Lincoln Central Campaign Club in New York Sept. 22, 1864. This was the second anniversary of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The caption at the bottom of the work swears that the event is accurately portrayed in the above illustration, and certifys " there were many of the accredited leaders of the Black Republican party. These high level Republican leaders, all "prominent men," are shown vigorously dancing, conversing, and fraternizing with fashionably dressed black women. Presumably the men peering in from the roof skylights are the reporters from the anti-Lincoln New York World. No white women are present in the scene and Lincoln supporters seated on the sides of the room are seen kissing and scandalously embracing black women. Northern Democrats opposed abolition by playing upon fears of widespread miscegenation, or racial mixing, that they argued would inevitably occur if Lincoln were re-elected to a second term which resulted in this propaganda print. A campaign banner reading, “Universal Freedom / One Constitution / One Destiny / Abraham Lincoln” hangs above the proceedings. This banner and portrait of Lincoln on the wall suggested to viewers that his re-election and racial mixing went hand-in-hand.

The series of prints critical of potential miscegenation were initially published in a New York daily newspaper, The World. When the paper was established in 1860, it was religiously orientated, and supported Lincoln’s policies. After losing money, however, it was sold to a group of New York City Democrats, who openly attacked Lincoln after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Known for printing falsified information and accounts, the paper was temporarily shut down in 1864 and it's editor Manton Marble arrested after publishing a report that Lincoln planned to draft 500,000 to 400,000 more men for the Union armies through a forged presidential order

The print was the fourth, last, and largest in a series of anti-Lincoln prints by New York lithographers Kimmel & Forster, published by Bromley & Company. 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. Although this print offers a harsh criticism of Lincoln, it was most likely produced as a commission, since the firm produced several prints and a series celebrating the President after his death.

The signature in the lower right corner of the illustration reveals that this scene was imagined by the artist Henry Atwell Thomas (1834-1904), who specialized in lithography of the American theatre, which accounts for the work’s dramatic imagery. In the lower left corner, the print includes an advertisement for publisher, copyright holder, and distributer, G.W. Bromley & Co.. Black and white copies were sold through the mail for 25 cents and hand colored copies cost 34 cents. Copies could be purchased at discount prices if purchasing multiples of 5, 50, or 100.

Date Made: 1864

Copyright Holder; Distributor: Bromley & Co.Maker: Kimmel and ForsterArtist: Thomas, Henry Atwell

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New York, New York City

Subject: African AmericanCourtship, lovePolitical PartiesChronology: 1860-1869AdornmentGlassesDancingMusicPolitical CaricaturesU.S. National Government, executive branchCommunication, newspapersPatriotism and Patriotic SymbolsReferenced: Civil WarRelated Event: Civil War


See more items in: Home and Community Life: Domestic Life, Clothing & Accessories, American Civil War Prints, Art, Domestic Furnishings


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: DL.60.3341Catalog Number: 60.3341

Object Name: LithographObject Type: Lithograph

Physical Description: paper (overall material)ink (overall material)Measurements: image: 12 5/8 in x 20 1/2 in; 32.0675 cm x 52.07 cm


Record Id: nmah_325557

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