Political cartoons have been published in the United States since the mid-1700s. Cartoonists raise questions and make points in ways that may appeal to people who would not read or be moved by an essay. Cartoonists use a variety of tools and techniques to amuse, provoke, and inform: symbolism, exaggeration, labeling, analogy, and irony. Learn more about these tools and techniques by consulting the Cartoon Analysis Guide.
This collection includes numerous nineteenth century political cartoons, including:
- The question settled.
- The knight of the ruefull [sic] countenance.
- Forcing slavery down the throat of a freesoiler.
- Jeff Davis’s November nightmare.
- Jeff Davis on his own platform; or the last “act of succession.”
Select two or three of these cartoons or conduct a Keyword search using the term cartoon to locate more political cartoons. Select at least two and use the Cartoon Analysis Guide to examine the cartoons. What is each cartoon’s message? Which tools and techniques do the cartoonists use to convey their points? How effective do you think the cartoons are in making their points?