In an effort to demonstrate their anger or distaste for an opponent, people have long created effigy dolls. These usually consist of a crude representation of the person disliked, for purposes of ridicule, burning, or (in the case of voodoo) sticking with pins. This particular effigy, portraying President Lincoln in a frock coat, seems fairly innocuous, but when you lift the paper mask of the President you find a black face beneath it.
Lincoln was said by his enemies South and North to be leader of the “black Republicans” – the party that supported rights for blacks. News accounts of 1860 tell of these Lincoln effigies being thrown into bonfires in Georgia, Ohio, and Oregon.

Did You Know? Burning a political opponent in effigy is a very old tradition. The American colonists burned King George III of England in effigy during the early days of the American Revolution.

Watch VideoWatch video: Dr. James Cornelius discusses the Effigy Doll of President Lincoln.

Listen to podcast: Episode 8, The Effigy Doll of President Lincoln
We talk with Dr. James Cornelius about the Effigy Doll of President Lincoln.

Suggested Classroom Activities

Elementary
Effigy Doll
Read and build background about how people demonstrated their unhappiness with leaders. Find examples of
political cartoons and effigy dolls that are used now and also those from the past.
Discuss:
Dissent vs. Hate Speech: Where’s the line?
Political cartoons
Modern use of effigies worldwide
Student Activities:
Lincoln was also depicted in paintings, photos, sculptures and even cartoons.

  • Find some of those in the library or online.
    • Compare the effigy doll in the picture to a painting, photo, sculpture or cartoon that you find
      of Lincoln.
    • How are they the same?
      • How are they different?
    • Look in some newspapers and/or magazines. Find a cartoon of the current president or another
      famous person.
  • What does the cartoon tell you about that person?
    • What do you think the cartoonist thinks of the person? Why?
    • How does the artist use sensory elements like angular or curvy shapes or bold or light lines to
      emphasize his point?
    • Exaggeration of facial features or facial expressions?
  • Discuss and role-play ways that individuals can disagree appropriately.

Vocabulary: dissent, effigy, facial features, facial expressions

Questions for Discussion or Journal Entries: Pictured is an effigy doll of President Lincoln. Some people
would throw dolls like this on a bonfire to show their displeasure and anger over Lincoln’s ideas about
emancipation of the slaves. What were the people so unhappy about? Do you think this was a good way to
express their feelings about Lincoln? What might have been some more effective ways? If you were one of
Lincoln’s children, how would this practice make you feel?

Questions for Discussion or Extended Response:

  • While effigy dolls are not common anymore, what types of effigies are used in the world today?
  • How might something like this affect the image of a president or presidential candidate?
  • Extended Response: What character traits might be given to people who created and destroyed effigy
    dolls throughout history?

Research: Find Abraham Lincoln in historical newspapers, periodicals, broadsides, and political cartoons.
What does the way he is portrayed suggest about him? What does this say about respect for Lincoln?
Extended Response: Look at the image of the effigy doll. What is the creator of the doll trying to communicate
through the “mask” of President Lincoln? Is this a fair representation of President Lincoln?
Research: Find caricatures and political cartoons of some recent presidents. How are these people portrayed?
Why do you think they are shown in a particular way?
Extension: Create a caricature of yourself.
Art and Design: Make an Apple Face Doll

  • Dress it with clothing appropriate for the person you are recreating.
  • An apple is used as the head on top of the bottle.

Vocabulary: caricature, effigy, emancipation

Questions for Discussion or Extended Response: Why do you think the dolls were so widespread, appearing
in the North and West as well as the South? What does this say about the support for African American rights in
the country? Why do you think a black face was placed under the “mask” of President Lincoln?
Questions for Discussion or Extended Response: While effigy dolls are not common anymore, what types of
effigies are used in the world today? Compare and contrast campaign techniques used today with the effigy doll
in Lincoln’s time. How could something like this affect the image of a president or presidential candidate?
Extended Response: What character traits might be given to people creating and destroying effigy dolls
throughout history?

Research caricatures of Lincoln. What does the way he is portrayed suggest? What does this say about the
respect for Lincoln?
Extended Response: What is the creator of the doll trying to communicate through the “mask” of
President Lincoln? Is this a fair representation of President Lincoln?

Research the caricatures and political cartoons of some recent presidents. How do these portray the president?
Why do you think they are shown in a particular way?

Research or Debate some current political disagreements. Is the general demeanor that of discussion or
discord? Have we crossed the line between dissent and hate speech?

Questions for Discussion or Extended Response: This is a picture of an effigy doll of President Lincoln.
Sometimes people would throw dolls like these in a bonfire to show their displeasure and anger over Lincoln’s
ideas about emancipation of the slaves. What were the people so unhappy about? Do you think this was a good
way to express their feelings about Lincoln?

What is your reaction to the method of expressing disagreement?
Vocabulary: caricature, effigy, emancipation