This image was created by Thomas Nast in the fall of 1864. It was created at a time when Lincoln was up for re-election and there was a definite possibility that he would loose, as many Americans were tired of war and wanted a peaceful resolution with the Confederacy. It is a direct attack on the Democrats’ Chicago Convention, which called for a party platform of peace with the Confederates, which Nast saw as a total waste of those Union soldiers that have already died in the fight.
An Iconic reading of this image would deal with the values of the community that are reflected in the image. This image is clearly propagandist, pushing viewers to question what would happen if victory was given to the Confederacy. The disabled soldier extends his hand to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, who is also standing on the grave of a dead Union soldier in an obvious sign of disrespect. Columbia is kneeling crying before that very grave and there are blacks, assumed to be slaves or former slaves in the background, huddled, not sure what is their future. All of these images are inflammatory, and force readers to think of the negative consequences of a Confederate victory. By dedicating the image to the Chicago Convention, the artist is reminding people that if they vote for the Democrats that this would be the future of the United States, thereby, strongly encouraging them to vote for Lincoln and the Republicans. This particular image’s Iconic reading would also be close to an Editorial reading. The symbolism in the image makes it hard not see that there is a clear political purpose to the image. The author clearly supports Lincoln and not making peace with the Confederacy.
From the Civil War Parlor