Interpreting Public Opinion Through Art

The Hartford Convention or Leap No Leap

Leap No Leap is drawn by William Charles, and is meant to serve as an attack on the Hartford Convention. In this piece, Charles depicts Federalist Timothy Pickering kneeling and praying, and above him are men meant to represent Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. On the right side of the drawing is King George III, guiding the men to jump. Make note of what the characters are saying, and take note of the medallion on the left below the cliff.

Imagine being a common citizen in this time period; what would seeing this mean to you? How does this depict Federalists after the Hartford Convention? 

The Present State of Our Country

The Present State of Our Country is another William Charles piece from this time period (sometime between 1812-1815). In it, he depicts two Americans trying to tear down two pillars reading, "Federalism" and, "Democracy." On the right side is George Washington sitting in the clouds. Take note of what he is quoted as saying, and think back to his Farewell Address. What does this image say of the political climate of America at this time? 

The Providential Detection (A Caricature of Jefferson)

The Providential Detection (A Caricature of Jefferson) - Artist Unknown. In this picture, Thomas Jefferson is shown to be attempting to destroy the U.S. Constititution, but is being stopped by an Eagle. Note the symbolism in this picture; what is the eagle supposed to represent, and why would this have been drawn against Thomas Jefferson? How does this depiction align with Federalist views? 

The Fall of Washington--or Maddy in Full Flight

The Fall of Washington--or Maddy in Full Flight was drawn by S.W. Fores, an English illustrator, in 1814. He depicts President Madison and a cabinet member escaping Washington as it burns behind them. Why would an Englishman portray the American President like this? What does this have to do with the ongoing War of 1812? How does this solidify Federalist views in America? 

British Valour and Yankee Boasting or, Shannon vs. Chesapeake

British Valour and Yankee Boasting, or Shannon versus Chesapeake is a political cartoon done by George Cruikshank sometime between 1792-1878. In this cartoon, he portrays the British takeover of the U.S.S. Chesapeake, an attack that took place during the War of 1812. Why would a British artist depict this event? How do cartoons like this stir attitudes towards the British from Americans, both in public and the political realm? 

A Sketch for the Regents Speech on Mad-ass-son's insanity

A Sketch for the Regents Speech on Mad-ass-son's Insanity is another George Cruikshank piece published in 1812. In this piece, Cruikshank is depicting James Madison standing between Napoleon and the devil, while an angel trumpets, "A bad news for you," towards him. What does this cartoon make Madison out to be? Why the use of Napoleon, the devil, and the angel? 

Columbia Teaching John Bull His New Lesson

Columbia Teaching John Bull His New Lesson is another William Charles piece that dates back to 1813. In his cartoon, Charles depicts a satire of Anglo-American and French-American relations during the War of 1812. How does Charles depict the Englishman and the Frenchman in this cartoon? Which view aligns most with the Federalists? Which view is less supportive of their political attitudes? 

A Boxing Match, or Another Bloody Nose for John Bull

A Boxing Match, or Another Bloody Nose for John Bull is yet, again, another William Charles piece. This one, published in 1813, depicts King George boxing with James Madison. The purpose of this piece is to celebrate a naval victory by America that occurred early on in the War of 1812. How does this piece work for/against Federalists and their goal to regain control of the government? How does this portrayal of Madison make Americans of this time feel towards the Democratic-Republicans? How about Britain? 

All political cartoons above are sourced from the Library of Congress' Archives located at LOC.Gov