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New York

International Center of Photography (ICP)

Exhibition Detail
President in Petticoats! Civil War Propaganda in Photographs
Curated by: Erin Barnett
1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd
New York, NY 10036


May 18th, 2012 - September 2nd, 2012
Opening: 
May 18th, 2012 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
 
"Jeff Davis and His Last Ditch" , "Jeff Davis and His Last Ditch" ,
1865
© Courtesy of International Center of Photography (ICP)
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> DESCRIPTION

As the American Civil War ground to a dispiriting and unheroic end after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee's rebel forces and the shocking assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in mid-April 1865, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, became a political fugitive. At dawn on May 10, 1865, a contingent of Michigan and Wisconsin cavalry captured Davis in a makeshift camp outside Irwinville, Georgia. In his haste to flee, Davis grabbed his wife's overcoat rather than his own. News reports immediately circulated that Davis had been apprehended in women's clothes and that he was attempting to disguise himself as a woman. Northern artists and caricaturists seized upon these rumors of cowardly escape and created wildly inventive images, some using photomontage, to sensationalize the political story by emasculating the fallen leader of the Confederacy. Photographers circulated and even pirated dozens of fanciful photographic cards; many used a photographic portrait of Davis on a hand-drawn body in a woman's dress, hat, and crinoline, but wearing his own boots, the detail that supposedly betrayed him to his captors. This exhibition, organized by Assistant Curator of Collections Erin Barnett, presents extraordinary examples of photography used in early political propaganda from ICP's Jefferson Davis Archive.


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