The National Game. Three "Outs" And One "Run"


A pro-Lincoln satire, deposited for copyright weeks before the 1860 presidential election. The contest is portrayed as a baseball game in which Lincoln has defeated (left to right) John Bell, Stephen A. Douglas, and John C. Breckinridge.

  • Lincoln (right) stands with his foot on "Home Base," advising the others, "Gentlemen, if any of you should ever take a hand in another match at this game, remember that you must have a good bat' and strike a fair ball' to make a clean score' & a home run.'" His "good bat" is actually a wooden rail labeled "Equal Rights and Free Territory." Lincoln wears a belt inscribed "Wide Awake Club." (Wide-Awakes were loosely organized para-military / political groups supporting Lincoln and the Republican platform of 1860.)
  • A skunk stands near the other candidates, signifying that they have been "skunk'd." Breckinridge (center), a Southern Democrat, holds his nose, saying, "I guess I'd better leave for Kentucky, for I smell something strong around here, and begin to think, that we are completely skunk'd.'" His bat is labeled "Slavery Extension" and his belt "Disunion Club."
  • At far left John Bell of the Constitutional Union party observes, "It appears to me very singular that we three should strike foul' and be put out' while old Abe made such a good lick.' Bell's belt says "Union Club," and his bat "Fusion.
  • Regular Democratic nominee Douglas replies, "That's because he had that confounded rail, to strike with, I thought our fusion would be a short stop' to his career." He grasps a bat labeled "Non Intervention."


  1. This cartoon may be introduced at the time of or shortly after a discussion and / or homework assignment on the topic of the Presidential Election of 1860.
  2. Students can be told that the cartoon was released a few weeks before the Presidential Election of 1860.  (Or, a careful examination of the image indicates a handwritten notation of "Sept. 18, 1860")
  3. In the initial exercise, the conversation within the balloons must be blanked out.
  4. Students should be asked to name the candidates for president.  (It is assumed that most students will recognize the image of Abraham Lincoln.) 
  5. The names of all of the candidates should be placed under each image with John Bell on the far left, Stephen A. Douglas next on the right and John C. Breckinridge closest to Lincoln.  No other identification should be provided.
  6. Students should first carefully examine the cartoon as a group to relate the title to recognizable items. (They may be told that the animal represents a skunk – no further explanation should be provided).
  7. In four groups, each representing one of the figures, the students identify the political position of their candidate and attempt to explain terms and phrases the cartoonist has placed on the candidate’s belt or on the bat in his hands. 
  8. Each group reports out.  Once all reports have been heard, the groups reconvene to create an appropriate commentary in the speech balloon of their candidate.
  9. Once again, each group reports out.
  10. The actual content of the balloon is revealed and students have an opportunity to determine which group came closest to matching the actual commentary.
  11. The teacher then distributes the LOC Summary sheet.