Decoding the Course Banner Image

Print-makers and illustrators in the nineteenth-century could be quite creative and calculating. In fact, the banner image from this course website provides a good example of what might be called pre-photoshop photoshopping undertaken by a commercial printer in Philadelphia following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. Here is what the image looked like that year:

Emancipation Banner

Yet here is what the original illustration looked like in January 1863 when Thomas Nast first drew it for Harpers Weekly:

Emancipation OriginalThe difference is more than just color.  Nast’s allegory for emancipation has now been subtly altered to give the martyred president a greater role.

cropped-cropped-cropped-cropped-emancipation.jpgEmancipation DetailThis discrepancy appears to have slipped past most scholars, or at least they have not commented on it in print.  Yet at a teacher’s workshop in 2013, an educator from Utah discovered the contrast while working on a project about Lincoln’s emancipation policy.


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