Politics and the Media   /   Summer 2008   /    The Public Presence of American Political Cartoons

Donald Dewey’s The Art of Ill Will & J. G. Lewin and P. J. Huff’s Lines of Contention

Kristine K. Ronan

Dewey, Donald. The Art of Ill Will: The Story of American Political Cartoons. New York: New York University Press, 2007.


Lewin, J. G., and P. J. Huff. Lines of Contention: Political Cartoons of the Civil War. New York: HarperCollins/Smithsonian, 2007.


f The Art of Ill Will is the story of American political cartooning, then Lines of Contention: Political Cartoons of the Civil War is political cartooning’s first case study. Drawing on cartoons of the Civil War period, the story of the war is told through the progression of cartoons, carefully balanced between the North and the South, between professional cartoonists and loyalists producing broadsides in secret. Divided into six sections, each of which covers a theme of the war period and stands in historical order, the book takes the reader through the set-up, execution, and resolutions of the war’s progression and conclusion. Authors J. G. Lewin and P. J. Huff present this tour of cartoons as a way to understand the war through its citizens—their political motivations and their perspectives—rather than through the (usual) battlegrounds; the book “becomes a his- tory of the incidents, attitudes, and politics of the war as seen through the eyes of contemporary com-

mentators” (vii). Thus, the book mines a graphic art form to illustrate the myriad com- plexities of American political thought at the time. These complexities divest the war of its strict North-South portrayal, as Northerners and Southerners alike reviled Lincoln, Republican and Democratic parties split into multiple factions, and peacemongers from both sides diplomatically snuck over the Mason-Dixon to try to end the conflict.

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