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The American Difficulty

The American Difficulty

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The London Punch 

Publication Date:

May 11, 1861


Among the many reasons Lincoln had to undertake and continue the Civil War, many assumed the two major issues were the preservation of the Union and the end of slavery. Lincoln himself was zealous in his belief that the Union must be preserved, but was more conflicted on the issue of slavery. In his personal correspondence, Lincoln himself said, "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that." Thus, for Lincoln, ending slavery was inconsequential to his decision to wage war against the South. Here, the London cartoonist shows Lincoln contemplating the inconvenience of the issue of slavery, as he stokes the fire and his house fills with smoke.


The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University