Political cartoons: John Tenniel:
the emancipation of the American slaves

Latherington Street
< Image: Punch (20 Jan 1866)

Tenniel's first cartoon with a Turkish bath theme was published on 20 January 1866, a few weeks after the American Secretary of State proclaimed the final ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, thereby making slavery illegal everywhere subject to United States Jurisdiction.

The caption, which linguistically would not be wholly acceptable today, sought to reassure readers that this was not a depiction of the torture chamber of the Inquisition, nor a representation of any alarming effects of the emancipation of American slaves, but 'merely the Turkish Bath in Latherington Street' in the West End of London.

Tenniel loosely based his drawing on the Jermyn Street Hammam, opened four years earlier, though without attempting to show Somers Clarke's actual building.

The Hammam was by far the largest Turkish bath in London at that time, and employed shampooers from north Africa. There was also a modesty code whereby bathers remained draped in towels until the last moment before entering the plunge pool, and they left it through a modesty tent of towels lowered around them from above.

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Caricatures and cartoons: 3. Political cartoons

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