The following map shows that infographics, which are increasingly popular in the internet age, are nothing new. In 1861, President Lincoln pored over this very map of the Southern United States as these states began seceding from the Union. The significance of the map is that it was meant not just to depict the geography of the area, but to display a crucial set of data. It showed the number of slaves residing in each county of each Southern state.

In what Lincoln called the ‘Slave Map’, Lincoln “saw testimony that the American south was not a uniform bloc. Areas of heavy slavery—the darkened banks along the Mississippi River, for example—tended to be secessionist, but the areas in between held the hope of pro-Union sympathy. Unlike traditional cartography, the map was designed to portray political terrain and, in Lincoln’s mind, moral terrain.”

Source: The New Yorker, “Why Abraham Lincoln Loved Infographics”,


1861, with the Union crumbling, President Lincoln studied an infographic

“Infographics are clearly having a cultural moment. They have become pervasive in newspapers, magazines, blog posts, and viral tweets; they appear on television and in advertising, in political campaigns and at art openings. As a Google search term, “infographic” has increased nearly twenty-fold in the last five years. Yet infographics have been popular, in one form or another, for centuries. The source of their power isn’t computers or the Internet, but the brain’s natural visual intelligence.”


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