Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories: Mr. Bull Didn’t Get His Cotton

Because of the blockade, by the Union fleets, of the Southern cotton ports, England was deprived of her supply of cotton, and scores of thousands of British operatives were thrown out of employment by the closing of the cotton mills at Manchester and other cities in Great Britain. England (John Bull) felt so badly about this that the British wanted to go to war on account of it, but when the United States eagle ruffled up its wings the English thought over the business and concluded not to fight.

“Harper’s Weekly” of May 16th, 1863, contained the cartoon we reproduce, which shows John Bull as manifesting much anxiety regarding the cotton he had bought from the Southern planters, but which the latter could not deliver. Beneath the cartoon is this bit of dialogue between John Bull and President Lincoln: MR. BULL (confiding creature): “Hi want my cotton, bought at fi’pence a pound.”

MR. LINCOLN: “Don’t know anything about it, my dear sir. Your friends, the rebels, are burning all the cotton they can find, and I confiscate the rest. Good-morning, John!”

As President Lincoln has a big fifteen-inch gun at his side, the black muzzle of which is pressed tightly against Mr. Bull’s waistcoat, the President, to all appearances, has the best of the argument “by a long shot.” Anyhow, Mr. Bull had nothing more to say, but gave the cotton matter up as a bad piece of business, and pocketed the loss.