Phunny Phellow– July 1865

Nast’s cartoon referred to the Alabama Claims controversy. The Confederate ship Alabama was illegally constructed (in violation of neutrality) in Liverpool and resupplied in France. Commanded by Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes, it captured 63 Union ships between September 1862 and June 1864, when it was sunk by the USS Kearsarge off Cherborg, France; Semmes burned 50 of the ships.

The damage claims controversy dragged on until 1872, when an International Tribunal in Geneva, Switzerland awarded the US $15.5 million in British gold.

England probably could have achieved a modest settlement at the war’s close in 1865, but her decision-maker, Lord Russell, refused. Nast made his case in Phunny Phellow in his first reference to Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth (France) trying to “wash this blood clean from my hands.” John Bull Macbeth, with “Pirates” embellished on one bloody hand and “Alabama” on the other, quaked in the foreground, as a tiny British lion yapped at Uncle Sam (who was seeking a “Peaceful Settlement of All Damages to Our U.S. Commerce.”)