Snake jug

On a whiskey jug, they seem like sensational warnings: vipers, dung beetles, a woman running for her life. Indulge and you’ll be dealing with this. But regular readers of the news in 1865, at the end of the American Civil War, would have understood the jug as a biting send-up of the southern Confederate States and their supporters in the North. Cornwall and Wallace Kirkpatrick, the brothers behind the designs, were Radical Republicans—basically the ultra-liberal Democrats of their day: anti-slavery, pro-equality progressives. And they pulled the scenes and characters straight out of the caustic but hilarious political cartoons published in the most Northern-leaning newspapers.

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