A few "Halloween costumes" worn by Abraham Lincoln

10/30/2020 Chris Wills

Since Halloween is a time of costumes and disguises, we thought it would be fun to look at some of the “costumes” Abraham Lincoln was given in the editorial cartoons of his day.

For instance, when Lincoln went to Washington for his inauguration, he traveled the last leg incognito to avoid the very real possibility of assassination. He wore a slouch hat and a coat, but cartoonists couldn’t help exaggerating. Some turned his hat into a Scottish tam o’ shanter and matched it with a kilt.

A few months later, Lincoln was treated more kindly in a cartoon that portrayed him as a muscular boxer walloping Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Lincoln shows up as a performer in an eerie stage production in this cartoon entitled “The Comedy of Death.”

London newspapers and magazines frequently satirized Lincoln. This one, released during a dispute between England and the United States, portrays Lincoln as a raccoon treed by an English hunter.

Lincoln got to dress up as a railroad engineer keeping the Union on track in this 1862 cartoon.

After some naval setbacks in 1863, Lincoln was shown as a frightened dog with tin cans labeled “Monitor” and “Ironside” — referring to two Union ships — tied to his tail.

When New York City rioted in response to the military draft, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper drew the city as a spoiled child who could not be controlled by Mother Lincoln.

Lincoln was portrayed as a vampire threatening Columbia (a symbol of America) in this cartoon from November 1864. The caption was "Columbia, thou art mine; with thy blood I will renew my lease of life — ah! ah!" which makes Lincoln sound strangely like Count Count from Sesame Street!

You can see many of these cartoons and plenty of different ones in our museum's Whispering Gallery. That's also the place to hear some of the scurrilous gossip people spread about Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln.

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