Home Design of Newspaper Rubric Teacher Notes
Analyzing political cartoons of the Civil War
Political cartoons are a visual commentary on current events and issues, either negative or positive.
You will draw a cartoon from the perspective of the north or the south.
What topic or issue could you make fun of or attack? or What topic could you make a positive statement about?
For the North: slavery? Dred Scott decision? the strength of the North? the wisdom of Lincoln? the success of the Anaconda plan?
For the South: the greed of the North? the ineffective generals of the North? John Brown, the radical? the strength of the South? the effectiveness of General Lee?
Your cartoons could also be about the war in general: hospital conditions, prison conditions, desertions, battleground conditions...
Though they are difficult to do, they can be fun to create and draw. To get started take a stand on an issue and use the following guidelines to draw your cartoon.
1. Caricature: Exaggerate the characters' features to help make a point or to focus on an idea about the character. How could you exaggerate the features of Lincoln?
2. Symbols: Use symbols to help get your point across, e.g. a confederate flag to represent the Southern soldiers
3. Labels: Label people or objects to make their identities clear to the readers.
On the shirt of a soldier you could write "north" or "south"
4. Titles/Captions: Sometimes the cartoonist gives the cartoon a title; or sometimes the captions are words spoken by the characters.
Your cartoon is done when it is self-explanatory. You would not have to explain the cartoon to anyone. I would be able to look at your cartoon and readily understand the message.
Here are possible questions to ask about your political cartoon:
1. Is it from the perspective of a southerner or a northerner?
2. Who are the characters in the cartoon? Why are certain features of the characters exaggerated?
3. What do the symbols stand for?
4. What is the caption?
5. Explain the topic or message of the cartoon.