Racist cartoon using African American side-show performer William Henry Johnson to lampoon the extent to which the Republican party supported the rights of African Americans as a part of their Election Platform of 1860. In the left, depicts editor of the Tribune, Horace Greeley, who says, "Gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you, this illustrious individual in whom you will find combined, all the graces, and virtues of Black Republicanism, and whom we propose to run as our next Candidate for the Presidency." In the center, Johnson, depicted with a bald and tapered head and attired in a long-sleeved shirt, shorts, and black shoes, leans on the spear that he holds in both hands and asks in the vernacular, "What, can dey be?" In the right, candidate Abraham Lincoln leans on a rail and says, "How fortunate! that this intellectual and noble creature should have been discovered just at this time, to prove to the world the superiority of the Colored over the Anglo Saxon race, he will be a worthy successor to carry out the policy which I shall inaugurate." In the background is a poster that reads, "Barnum’s What is it. Now exhibiting." William Henry Johnson was born in Liberty Corners, New Jersey to William and Mahalia Johnson, who were formerly enslaved. As Johnson’s head was smaller and sloped, agents from van Emburgh's Circus in New Jersey exhibited him with a story that he was caught in Africa and was a "missing link." P.T. Barnum then exhibited him with the names "Zip the Pinhead" and "What is it.", Probably drawn by Louis Maurer., Title from item., Date from copyright statement: Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1860, by Currier & Ives, in the Clerk's office of the District Court for the Southn Distt of N.Y., Accessioned 1970., RVCDC, Description revised 2021., Access points revised 2021., Part of digital collections catalog through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, Governor, 2013-2014.
Currier & Ives
Library Company of Philadelphia | Print Department Political Cartoons - 1860-33R [7922.F]