On August 30, 1861, General John C. Fremont issued a proclamation for the state of Missouri in which he declared martial law and announced the emancipation of slaves owned by Confederate sympathizers in the state. Fremont acted without Lincoln's permission and was asked by the president in a September letter to amend his proclamation so that it complied with the Confiscation Act passed by Congress in early August. Chief among the president's concerns was the risk of alienating Kentucky and the other border states. This particular cartoon shows Lincoln in a life preserver labeled "Union," on a storm tossed sea, pushing away an African-American man who had been clinging to him. Next to them floats a hat with papers labeled "Fremonts proclamation," and in the background is the mast of a ship flying a "Proclamation" pennant. Below the image, Lincoln is saying to the man, "I’m sorry to have to drop you, Sambo, but this concern won’t carry us both!"
- Who are the two men in this cartoon? What does the name "Sambo" reveal about much of society's attitudes towards African Americans?
- On August 30, 1861, General John C. Fremont issued a proclamation, without President Lincoln's permission, for the state of Missouri in which he declared martial law and announced the emancipation of slaves owned by Confederate sympathizers in the state. Why would General John Fremont's proclamation for emancipation of slaves held by Confederate sympathizers in the border state of Missouri be problematic? Who was responsible for what happened to it?
- What was the "concern" President Abraham Lincoln referred to in the cartoon?
- Overall, what message is the artist sending through the creation of this cartoon? How does he draw it to relay this message to his audience?
"I'm sorry to have to drop you, Sambo, but this concern won't carry us both!" Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 12 October 1861. Courtesy of Library of Congress