Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories: “Mrs. North and Her Attorney”

In the issue of London “Punch” of September 24th, 1864, President Lincoln is pictured as sitting at a table in his law office, while in a chair to his right is a client, Mrs. North. The latter is a fine client for any attorney to have on his list, being wealthy and liberal, but as the lady is giving her counsel, who has represented her in a legal way for four years, notice that she proposes to put her legal business in the hands of another lawyer, the dejected look upon the face of Attorney Lincoln is easily accounted for. “Punch” puts these words in the lady’s mouth:

MRS. NORTH: “You see, Mr. Lincoln, we have failed utterly in our course of action; I want peace, and so, if you cannot effect an amicable arrangement, I must put the case into other hands.”

In this cartoon, “Punch” merely reflected the idea, or sentiment, current in England in 1864, that the North was much dissatisfied with the War policy of President Lincoln; and would surely elect General McClellan to succeed the Westerner in the White House. At the election McClellan carried but one Northern State—New Jersey, where he was born—President Lincoln sweeping the country like a prairie fire.

“Punch” had evidently been deceived by some bold, bad man, who wanted a little spending money, and sold the prediction to the funny journal with a certificate of character attached, written by—possibly—a member of the Horse Marines. “Punch,” was very much disgusted to find that its credulity and faith in mankind had been so imposed upon, especially when the election returns showed that “the-War-is-a-failure” candidate ran so slowly that Lincoln passed him as easily as though the Democratic nominee was tied to a post.