December 21, 1861, page 816

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"Massa say de Bobolitionists comin,' and gib us dese Knives.  Who dey for?"


This cartoon appears eight months into the Civil War and a little more than two years after D. H. Strotherís cartoon, "A Southern Planter Arming Slaves to Resist Invasion." Both cartoons address similar themes, but carry very different messages. In this cartoon, like in Strotherís, the master has given his slaves bladed weapons to fight against the "abolitionists." In this case, though, the term refers not to actual opponents of slavery in the South, but to the Union army. Confederates incorrectly considered all Unionists to be abolitionists. Instead of the compliant behavior of the slaves in Strotherís cartoon, here, one of the fierce-looking slave men asks, "Who dey for?" The implication is that the slaves might use the weapons against their master and seek their own freedom. While the slaveowner may think that he has grateful, loyal slaves, he is only deluding himself.


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