Jeff Davis 'Taking' Washington
John William "A.C." Kline (1824–1892)
Ink on paper
7.7 x 13.8 cm (3 1/16 x 5 7/16 in.)
Brian D. Caplan Collection
Not on view
During the year before the war, stationery shops and printing houses satisfied the nation’s partisan spirit by offering their customers mailing envelopes and loose sheets imprinted with humorous motifs. The collecting and use of what came to be known as "patriotic covers" quickly developed into a passion. Even today there is a notable market for Civil War covers, particularly those with Confederate themes, which are much rarer because of significant paper shortages in the South beginning in late 1862. Most covers are printed in one color and exhibit a gallows humor expressed in crude, cartoonlike drawings. Among many other subjects, the envelopes lampoon Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant in the North and Jefferson Davis and P. G. T. Beauregard in the South. Here, in further proof that photography had fully saturated American society by war’s start, an artist working for the Philadelphia publisher A. C. Kline suggests with a wry sense of humor that the only possible way Confederate States President Jefferson Davis might "take" the nation’s capital is as a photographer with a large-view camera.