"One of the Effects of the War"

February 7, 1863

Frank Bellew

"One of the Effects of the War"

Business Scandals; Civil War, Finances; Wars, American Civil War; Women, Civil War; Women, Wives;

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Army Contractor's Wife. "And say, Young Man, put me up a Diamond Necklass and a couple of Gold Watches along of them other things!"

This cartoon by Frank Bellew is the last of seven appearing in Harper's Weekly from 1861-1863 which criticized government contractors to the Union armed forces.  During the Civil War, many businessmen received government contracts to provide the federal troops with uniforms, blankets, food, and other necessary supplies.  Especially in the early years of the war, these contractors came under fire for providing the armed forces with inferior products at inflated prices.    

An earlier cartoon (1861) charged that army and navy contractors "desire either to rob the soldier or to cheat the government."  Another cartoon suggested that hanging a few contractors might be a valuable deterrent to their shifty practices and thereby raise the quality of beef served to Union troops.  

This cartoon underscores the wealth acquired by some contractors by presenting a richly-dressed wife of an army contractor who is able to buy diamond and gold jewelry with her husband's allegedly unfair profits.  The fact that her wealth has been gained recently is emphasized by presenting her as ill-spoken and ignorant ("them other things").  For some businessmen, Civil War contracts did prove to be a key ingredient in achieving industry domination and continuing prosperity. 

Robert C. Kennedy

"One of the Effects of the War"
July 14, 2024

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