The Graduate Center - City University of New York

"Divorce A Vinculo. Mrs. Carolina Asserts her Right to 'Larrup' her Nigger."

Referring to judicial termination of a legal marriage, this cartoon by John Tenniel (best known now for his illustrations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice novels) was published in January 1861 in the British satirical weekly Punch. With South Carolina represented by a pistol-packing, cat-o’-nine-tails wielding woman threatening a black child beseeching the aid of the United States as personified by the figure of Brother Jonathan, the cartoon commented on the palmetto state’s secession from the United States the month before and acknowledged the defense of slavery as its major motivation. This cartoon would be one of the few published in Punch during the course of the Civil War that sympathized with the Union cause. Indeed, until his assassination, Abraham Lincoln was often depicted in the magazine as a hypocrite, dictator, or deceiver.

Creator: John Tenniel

Date: January 19, 1861

Publisher: Punch: The London Charivari

Source: New York Public Library