[Boston]. 1863. Engraved broadside, 11 3/4 x 16 3/4 inches. Minute chip at right edge (image not affected). Slight toning, one small spot of foxing. Near fine. Item #WRCAM54819
A sharp satire of the slave trade, Jefferson Davis, and the Confederacy consisting of twelve engraved vignettes parodying the nursery rhyme, "This is the House that Jack Built." Here, Johnston questions the literal humanity of the slave traders, in images and text. The first illustration shows "The House That Jeff Built," a slave holding pen with an auction broadside posted on the wall. Other illustrations shown enslaved Africans awaiting the auction, the auctioneer at his podium, and families and individuals being sold. One illustration is an isolated image of a whip, while in the next panel an overseer beats a slave, tied to a post, across his exposed back. The text is as caustic as the illustrations: "This is the thing, by some call'd a man, / Whose trade is to sell all the chattels he can..."; and confirms the ultimate fates of all involved with the slave trade, "Here the slave breeder parts with his own flesh / To a trader down south, in the heart of secesh. / Thus trader and breeder secure without fail, / The lasting attachment of him with a tail..." Finally, Johnston turns to Davis directly: "Here's the arch rebel Jeff whose infamous course / has bro't rest to the plow and made active the hearse, / And invoked on his head every patriots curse, / Spread ruin and famine to stock the slave pen...But Jeff's infamous house is doom'd to come down, / So says Uncle Sam and so said John Brown...." David Claypoole Johnston (1797?-1865), dubbed "the American Cruikshank" by Clarence S. Brigham, was a noted cartoonist and humorist as well as a professional actor, performing for theatre companies in Boston and Philadelphia. As an artist, engraver, and lithographer, he produced numerous caricatures and political cartoons, many of which were considered too controversial for publication. OCLC locates nine copies, at Yale, Dartmouth, Miami University, Brown, Library of Congress, Massachusetts Historical Society, Princeton, Boston Public Library, and Cornell. There is also a copy at the American Antiquarian Society. JOHNSON, DAVID CLAYPOOL [sic] JOHNSTON, 75. REILLY, AMERICAN POLITICAL PRINTS 1863-9. WEITENKAMPF 138. OCLC 12256874, 299946901, 191119927, 892484763, 966267362.