“John Bull” – English Support of the Confederacy

John Bull's sympathy [graphic]

“John Bull’s Sympathy,” 1861-1865. Gift of William Caleb Loring, 33°, A85/012/0379.

Northern publishers made clear their disdain for England’s material and financial support of the Confederacy by issuing envelopes featuring satirical caricatures. These envelopes depict “John Bull,” a personification of England, or “Victoria Rex,” a symbol of England’s monarch, Queen Victoria (1819-1901).

Some caricatures, such as one called “John Bull’s Sympathy,” explicitly suggest that England has turned its back on the plight of enslaved people in favor of ensuring the prosperity of the cotton-reliant British textile industry. Another envelope, satirizing England’s political balancing act, shows John Bull as a horse trick-rider, holding a cotton bale on his back while he tries to ride two horses, one representing the Union, the other “Secession,” or the Confederacy.

“John Bull” – English Support of the Confederacy