Principle vs. Interest
In “Principle vs. Interest,” England’s John Bull casts a sidelong glance at the seated Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, who appears as a cotton broker. Bull turns his back on the black male figure, signaling that England’s abolitionist principles will not stop it from acting on its commercial interests. Characteristic of cartooning style at that time, the slave is literally encased and flailing helplessly in a cotton bale.
The March 1862 Yankee Notions cartoon graphically imagines the plight of the so-called Infant Confederacy. Here a rotund yet menacing slave “mammy” attends to an emaciated baby lying on a cotton bale and swathed in a long gown resembling a christening robe, labeled “Confederacy.” The nurse’s knowing grin suggests that the Confederacy cannot properly nourish its “berry sickly chile” without her help. The language of the cartoon, both visual and textual, typifies the unabashed endorsement of degrading racial stereotypes pervasive at that time.