Cartoon Categories

Cartoon Categories2022-11-15T18:04:39+00:00

Christmas

Merry Old Santa Claus

Harper’s Weekly – January 1, 1881

Of all the symbols Nast created, popularized or inspired, Santa Claus is the most endearing, and probably will be the most enduring, as an irresistible holiday image — for both hearts and pocketbooks. The merry old Santa who appears in countless newspapers on Christmas Eve or Day every year, mirrors the artist’s features. […]

Oil Paintings

Oil Paintings – 1895, 1897

Nast identified closely with Santa Claus, as evidenced by this 1895 painting which contains his own features. Two years later, he painted a self-portrait for the 100th Anniversary of the Morristown, New Jersey, Volunteer Fire Department with the same nose and pudgy cheeks. Both are in the Macculloch Hall […]

Santa Claus and His Works

Harper’s Weekly – December 29, 1866

Clement Moore personified the modern Santa Claus when he wrote his iconic ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in 1822, but it wasn’t published in book form until 1848.

The centerpiece of Nast’s 1866 double-page, 20-vignette cartoon depicting Santa’s Workshop featured Moore’s elfin, fur-suited Santa standing on a chair to […]

Merry Christmas

Harper’s Bazar – January 3, 1880

Santa was extremely personal to Nast and his family; they appeared in many of the 33 Santa Claus cartoons he drew for Harper’s Weekly and the 21 he drew for Harper’s Bazar over 24 years.

Tommy and Sallie Nast had five children whom they doted on, and spaced over […]

Santa Claus’s Mail, Santa Claus’s Rebuke

Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Bazar – December 30, 1871

Early on, Nast featured bad behavior in a few family Christmas cartoons. Six-year old Tommy must have been really “naughty,” as Papa and Mamma complained to Santa in Harper’s Bazar. The similarly-dated Weekly showed Santa receiving about six times more letters from “naughty children’s parents” while […]

Christmas Eve

Harper’s Weekly – January 3, 1874

As his children grew older, Nast struggled to keep the mystery of Santa alive for them. Technological improvements like gas lighting enabled middle-class families to stay awake well past sunset. His post-dated 1873 Christmas cover illustration showed a still-smiling Santa waiting on the roof for the children to […]

The Same Old Christmas Story Over Again

Harper’s Weekly – January 4, 1873

Even though the tensions of Nast’s campaign against Horace Greeley campaign resulted in Nast’s physical collapse after President Ulysses Grant’s November 1872 victory, his depictions of Santa as a disciplinarian were over. His post-dated loving double-page cartoon showed four-year old Edith and seven-year old Tommy blissfully dreaming about […]

“Another Stocking to Fill”

Harper’s Weekly – January 3, 1880

Thomas and Sallie Nast’s youngest child, Cyril, was born on August 28, 1879 — an unexpected “accident,” probably conceived the previous Thanksgiving. Nast celebrated with Another Stocking to Fill, perhaps the tenderest illustration he ever drew. A ten-stanza poem began with “What Mama Thinks” and closed with “Santa […]

“Hello! Santa Claus!” “Hello! Little One!”

Harper’s Weekly – December 20, 1884

In 1884, Nast pictured Mabel, 13, talking to Santa (with Nast’s features) directly on a new-fangled telephone. (Alexander Graham Bell’s patent had been granted in 1876, and the first switchboard was established two years later in New Haven.)

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Harper’s Weekly – December 25, 1886

Appropriately, Nast’s last Christmas cartoon for Harper’s Weekly appeared on its cover, post-dated at the start of his final week at the publication in 1886.

Once more, he played off ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, but he now featured the sleeping mice in their beds and their house. Among […]

Boss Tweed

The “Brains”

Harper’s Weekly – October 21, 1871

William Magear Tweed’s Protestant ancestors emigrated from Kelso, Scotland (on the Tweed River) in the mid-1700s. Bill was a third-or-fourth-generation New Yorker, born on April 3, 1823.

For about 75 years after his death, Tweed’s middle name was mistakenly thought to be Marcy; actually it was Magear, his mother’s maiden […]

Who Stole the People’s Money? – Do Tell

Harper’s Weekly – August 19, 1871

The “Big Four” Ring members — Bill Tweed, Peter Sweeny, Oakey Hall and Richard Connolly — all belonged to Tammany, with Tweed as Grand Sachem (chief) from 1863 until his downfall in late 1871. Dignified John Hoffman served as frontman, first as […]

The Economical Council, Albany, New York

Harper’s Weekly – December 25, 1869

Here, Nast included all four principal Ring members for the first time. His Economical Council was all about money, not religion. Pius Hoffman I, wearing a Tammany papal crown and holding two “Tax Levy” golden keys, declared: “No discussion necessary for $ . . . that is condemned.” […]

The Power Behind the Throne

Harper’s Weekly – October 29, 1870

Nast knew that ridicule was probably the only effective way to attack the Ring, but there was no obvious approach. Tweed, Sweeny, Hall and Hoffman all had positive public images, while the press was largely controlled. Tammany excelled at keeping mouths and records closed, so meaningful information was […]

The Welcome to New Cork

Miss Columbia’s Public School – 1871

Tammany Hall — named after Tamarend, a Delaware Indian chief — began as a patriotic social organization prior to 1800, but soon became a Democratic political club whose support and tactics often decided New York City elections. As the number of poor, uneducated Irish immigrants — many speaking […]

Our Modern Falstaff Reviewing His Army

Harper’s Weekly – November 5, 1870

The Irish support for the Tweed Ring peaked on Election Day when they were to vote illegally in as many election districts as possible, using false identifications and addresses — taverns, brothels and vacant lots included. In 1870, Mayor Oakey Hall created additional election districts to make repeat […]

“That’s What’s the Matter”

Harper’s Weekly – October 7, 1871

After the polls closed and the ballot box shenanigans were complete, two canvassers in each district tallied the votes and forwarded the results to election headquarters. Now Tweed played his key card — counting.

While in jail shortly before his death, Tweed explained how he controlled elections: “Count the […]

Going Through the Form of Universal Suffrage

Harper’s Weekly – November 11, 1871

There were plenty of other tricks like dropping Republican votes into fake ballot boxes. Just before the election, Nast captured that, substituting a wastebasket, as the gang leered and the police looked on.

Tweed’s methods were effective. After the 1870 elections, Democrats controlled every branch of the New York […]

“It’s Love that Makes the World Turn Round”

Harper’s Weekly – November 12, 1870

To ensure favorable publicity and continuing public support, the Ring bribed the press overtly and covertly. Mayor Oakey Hall distributed city advertising to 54 daily and 26 weekly newspapers in the city and state to keep them from attacking Tammany, even if not actively supporting it. Advertising included […]

Tweedledee and Sweedledum

Harper’s Weekly – January 14, 1871

Tweed also had a reputation for generosity, although its sources were totally tainted. He did do some good with his ever-increasing tax levies by supporting parochial schools, orphan asylums, hospitals, homes for the friendless and dispensaries, and personally giving random gifts of food and coal.

In 1870, he publicized […]

Senator Tweed in a New Role

Harper’s Weekly – April 16, 1870

New York had both a city and an overlapping county government, providing duplicate opportunities for patronage and graft. The Common Council/Aldermen (“Forty Thieves”) prepared the City budget, while the Board of Supervisors prepared the County budget. Each body could levy taxes and issue bonds. Some individuals worked for […]

Our Common Schools As They Are and As They May Be

Harper’s Weekly – February 26, 1870

After the Tweed Ring obtained more power in state as well as city government, Church schools received a large proportion of common school funding. Nast’s three-vignette cartoon was, in effect, right on the money. Justice, with an Irish scale weighed down with “Fraudulent votes,” gave bags full of […]

Foreshadowing of Coming Events in Our Public Schools

Harper’s Weekly – April 16, 1870

A fundamental rift in America preceded the 1846 assumption of the Papacy by Pius IX. As the massive influx of Irish immigrants and potential voters increased annually, New York Governor William Seward wanted to attract them to the Whig (pre-Republican) party. During 1840-42, he pressed the State Legislature […]

The New Board of Education

Harper’s Weekly – May 13, 1871

As the Tweed Ring’s power peaked, Nast showed the Boss and his cronies throwing out the old textbooks printed by Harper’s, and substituting new books published by Tweed’s New York Printing Company. This would have cost Harper Brothers at least $50,000 annually if Tweed had not been overthrown. […]

The American River Ganges

Harper’s Weekly -September 30, 1871

At the height of the Tweed campaign, Nast launched one of his all-time best — some say also his most notorious — cartoons: The American River Ganges. Sub-titled The Priests and the Children, it accompanied Eugene Lawrence’s scathing commentary of the same name on the preceding page. Lawrence pointed […]

Under the Thumb

Harper’s Weekly – June 10, 1871

In addition to potent caricatures, Nast also needed a catchy slogan that, when repeated often enough, would incite his audience to vote Tweed and the Ring out of office in the November election, now less than six months away. As protests became more audible, an April 4 mass […]

Shadows of Forthcoming Events (extract)

Harper’s Weekly – January 22, 1870

Tweed’s next target reportedly was Washington. As early as January 1870, Nast drew a forboding 15-vignette cartoon entitled Shadows of Forthcoming Events. One scenario forecast Hoffman and Tweed as the Democratic ticket for 1872. However, as time passed, the rumored slate became Hoffman for President, Hall to replace […]

On to Washington

Harper’s Weekly – June 17, 1871

As talk about Tweed’s and Hoffman’s national ambitions increased, Nast — who was determined to do all he could to help Grant get reelected in 1872 — had an extra burr under his artistic saddle. He responded to the threat with two major cartoons and several vignettes.

On to […]

The Rich Growing Richer, the Poor Growing Poorer

Harper’s Weekly – September 2, 1871

The majority of Harper’s normal circulation of about 135,000 went to middle and upper-middle income readers. To overthrow Tammany, Nast knew he had to attract and convince lower-class voters whose time, finances and literacy were limited. He appealed to them with three lifestyle-contrasting cartoons, which were ultimately made […]

Wholesale and Retail

Harper’s Weekly – September 16, 1871

An even stronger contrast followed two weeks later, as the Big Four made their last appearance as comparative equals. In Wholesale and Retail, they left the City Treasury with bulging pockets and police salutes as a smirking Tweed and conspiratorial Sweeny led the way. A worried Hall, behind […]

“Too Thin!”

Harper’s Weekly – September 30, 1871

On September 7, Judge George Barnard, a close friend of Tweed, saw the handwriting on the wall and tried to save his job (unsuccessfully) by double-crossing the Boss and issuing an injunction prohibiting Comptroller “Slippery Dick” Connolly from any further issuance of bonds or contracts.

On Saturday, September 9, […]

“Stop Thief!”

Harper’s Weekly – October 7, 1871

Back on August 27, the Times had editorialized “Why (Comptroller Richard “Slippery Dick”) Connolly was kept in office and how it was done?” The article explained how Tweed’s (April 1870) Charter secretly cancelled the public’s right to elect their comptroller, and made Connolly unremovable by anybody before 1875.

After […]

“The Tammany Tiger Loose — What Are You Going to Do About It?”

Harper’s Weekly – November 11, 1871

Nast used the Tammany Tiger for his campaign climax, along with five other cartoons — occupying four-plus pages in total — in the post-dated November 11 Weekly, available six days before the election. However, his keynote tiger had to compete for attention with Mrs. O’Leary’s cow and the […]

“What Are You Laughing At? To the Victor Belong the Spoils”

Harper’s Weekly – November 25, 1871

“November 7, 1871 — The Tammany Ring Smashed — That’s what the people did about it — Sweeny gone to grass — Haul done brown — Gov. Hoffman’s veto power neutralized” were among the phrases Nast used in his cover cartoon which appeared eight days after the election […]

Something That Did Blow Over — November 7, 1871

Harper’s Weekly – November 25, 1871

Nast must have really enjoyed finalizing Mayor Oakey Hall’s memorable forecast after the first Times revelation in July: “This will all blow over.” Something That Did Blow Over featured the storm that destroyed Tammany Hall. Oakey hung from a teetering column with cash packets dropping from his pocket; […]

Can the Law Reach Him — The Dwarf and the Giant Thief

Harper’s Weekly – January 6, 1872

After Tweed resigned as Commissioner of Public Works on December 28, 1871, he faced criminal charges. The primary question on many lips was whether he could be convicted. Nast dramatized that in a full-page cartoon.

“Stone Walls Do Not a Prison Make”

Harper’s Weekly – January 6, 1872

In the same issue that he posed the question of conviction as the New Year dawned, Nast — with premonition — raised the question of escape if Tweed actually was convicted.

Touchstone

Harper’s Weekly – January 6, 1872

Mayor Abraham Oakey Hall, or A. Oakey Hall as he signed himself, was the Ring’s advisor on most legislative and legal matters. Nast referred to him on occasion as “O.K. Haul.”

If Tweed had been able to elect John Hoffman as Governor in 1866, Hall would have succeeded him […]

The Last of the Four

Harper’s Weekly – January 13, 1872

Richard (Slippery Dick) Connolly went on leave after he appointed Andrew Green as his deputy in September. He formally resigned on November 18 and, to his surprise, was arrested on November 25 by Sheriff Matthew Brennan. Bail was set at $1 million, which he was prepared to meet. […]

“Et Tu, Brute? — Then Fall, Caesar”

Harper’s Weekly – January 27, 1872

Two months after Boss Tweed was beaten in the 1871 election, Nast depicted his frontman, Governor John Hoffman killing his proverbial father in a replay of French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Death of Caesar. He probably was stimulated by a current production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar with Edwin Booth […]

Tweed-Le-Dee and Tilden-Dum

Harper’s Weekly – July 1, 1876

The answers to Nast’s predictive security concerns were accurate over time. Tweed’s first trial was postponed for a year. Eighteen days after it started on January 13, 1873, a hung jury was dismissed; it was probable but never proved, that bribery played a role.

A second trial ended in […]

Another Whale — Jonah Case

Harper’s Weekly – October 7, 1876

Tweed spent three weeks in Spanish custody, after which he was returned to the United States aboard the Navy frigate U.S.S. Franklin, which departed Spain on September 27 and arrived in New York on November 23. While he was in transit, Nast celebrated with a pictorial pun featuring […]

Civil War

Contraband of War

Painting – 1867

Unhappy at Harper’s Weekly because of conflicts with editor George William Curtis, Nast left for a year (June 1867-8) to undertake the most entrepreneurial and potentially career-changing venture of his life. He believed that he could satisfy his passion for historical painting and his talent for caricature by combining them into […]

The Grand Peace Overture to “Our Wayward Sisters”

Phunny Phellow – August 1864

In July 1864, President Abraham Lincoln’s reelection chances looked dismal, primarily because the Civil War was dragging on in Georgia and Virginia. Northern morale was at a low. Within his cabinet, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair and, apparently, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton favored peace negotiations. Outside, New York publishers […]

Compromise with the South — Dedicated to the Chicago Convention

Harper’s Weekly – September 3, 1864

Lincoln’s prospects improved slightly on August 5, when Admiral David Farragut, lashed to the mast of his flagship, shouted “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” on his way to capturing Mobile Bay. That was the first in a triad of critical Union victories.

The Democratic National Convention was scheduled […]

The Rebel Terms of Peace!!

Campaign Poster

On October 16, 1864, the Richmond Enquirer published some new beyond-the-pale demands which were not in the platform at the Chicago convention. Among them were recognition of the Confederate States as an independent country; inclusion of three border states — Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland — in the Confederacy; and payment by the […]

Contraband of War

New York Illustrated News – June 15, 1861

When the Civil War began in April 1861 with the bombardment of Fort Sumter, Nast was working for the New York Illustrated News. Two months later, he depicted Major General Benjamin Butler holding one of the artist’s first Southern stereotyped villains at bay.

On May 22, 1861, […]

The Christmas Tree of the Federal Army

New York Illustrated News – January 4, 1862

Over the next quarter-century, Nast’s family-oriented Christmas drawings would become a Harper’s Weekly tradition. In 1861, however, his first Christmas tree had a double meaning: ten leading Confederate generals and politicians hanging as labeled ornaments. The musician (right) probably was a memorial tribute to the artist’s […]

Santa Claus in Camp

Harper’s Weekly – January 3, 1863

By the following Christmas, Nast had been working for Harper’s Weekly for five months.

The post-dated Christmas cover featured Santa Claus in Camp. Although Santa’s image had not yet evolved into the fat, jolly portrayal that Nast later made famous, it had a strong emotional impact on Harper’s readers.

In […]

Christmas Eve, 1862

Harper’s Weekly – January 3, 1863

In the same post-dated issue as Santa Claus in Camp, Christmas Eve, 1862 was a milestone in Nast’s early career. His sentimental allegory drew so much praise from the Harper brothers, as well as their public, that their young artist’s power to draw what and how he wanted […]

A Gallant Color-Bearer

Harper’s Weekly – September 20, 1862

This was the first of 404 covers that Nast created for Harper’s Weekly, drawn less than two months after he joined the publication. The accompanying text told the story of how a thrice-wounded New York soldier held on to his regiment’s flag even when unconscious, marking him as […]

The Chicago Platform (extract)

Harper’s Weekly – October 15, 1864

This is an extracted centerpiece from The Chicago Platform, Nast’s 20-vignette follow-up to Compromise with the South, and published a month before the 1864 election when George McClellan faced off against Lincoln.

Nast’s prize slap in the cartoon was at McClellan standing on board a ship covering his backside […]

The Rebel Army Crossing the Fords of the Potomac for the Invasion of Maryland

Harper’s Weekly – September 27, 1862

Antietam

On the night of September 4-5, 1862, General Robert E. Lee invaded Maryland en route to the Battle of Antietam. Alfred Waud painted an on-the-spot watercolor and sent his picture to Harper’s.

Nast built on Waud’s painting to evoke the drama of a gigantic rebel army stealthily crossing the […]

The Emancipation of the Negroes, January, 1863 The Past and the Future

Harper’s Weekly – January 24, 1863

Although the victory at Antietam was not decisive — as it could have been under a general like Ulysses Grant — it was still sufficient for Lincoln to proclaim that all slaves in states and/or territory within states controlled by the Confederacy would be emancipated on January 1, […]

A Negro Regiment in Action

Harper’s Weekly – March 14, 1863

Some of the first Black soldiers in the Union army were South Carolina Sea Island Negroes who were freed as contrabands in November 1861. The official report of a colonel of the First Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers (colored) praised their valor in various victories in interior Georgia […]

The Army of the Potomac — Drawing Rations

Harper’s Weekly – August 22, 1863

Nast had sixty-four drawings in Harper’s Weekly before the war concluded at Appomattox on April 9, 1865; of these, only two were true cartoons, both small and on the back page. All related to military, civilian or political aspects of the war. Fourteen battle scenarios and half […]

The Halt

Harper’s Weekly – October 1, 1864

As Black soldiers proved their worth in battle, Nast depicted their integration into military life, a step beyond emancipation. His last illustration of life in the Army — The Halt — showed a white officer with his arm around a Black helper at a pump. On the […]

Reveille in Camp — 5 a.m.

Harper’s Weekly – July 11, 1863

Unlike the Weekly’s principal frontline artists Alfred Waud and Theodore Davis, Winslow Homer and Nast created their illustrations in New York. Homer specialized in scenes of army life. During 1863, Nast drew his own impressions — some as pictures and others as topical vignettes.

Nast, who always enjoyed children, […]

The Drummer Boy of Our Regiment — Eight War Scenes

Harper’s Weekly – December 19, 1863

Perhaps the most famous drummer boy was Johnny Clem, who was allowed to join a Michigan Volunteer regiment in April 1861 as a nine-year old. In September 1863, he escaped capture at Chicamauga by shooting a Confederate officer; a month later he was seized, but released shortly afterwards. […]

John Morgan’s Highwaymen Sacking a Peaceful Village in the West

Harper’s Weekly – August 30, 1862

About a month before Nast joined Harper’s Weekly, two Confederate colonels (soon to be generals) — Nathan Bedford Forrest in Tennessee and John Morgan in Kentucky — with commands of 800 to 1,000 men each — conducted devastating guerilla raids against troops under the control of Union General […]

After the Battle — The Rebels in Possession of the Field

Harper’s Weekly – October 25, 1862

Nast’s next negative illustration referred to the aftermath of the Union defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run, which occurred two months earlier. A letter to the New York Times, reprinted in the Weekly, described the scene two miles from Centerville, the site of First Bull Run […]

Historic Examples of Southern Chivalry

Harper’s Weekly – February 7, 1863

Nast’s 16 negative depictions of Confederate atrocities during the Civil War were an important factor in energizing Union public opinion, and leading Lincoln to call him “his best recruiting sergeant.” Southern Chivalry was Nast’s most vicious atrocity pictorial, reprising scenes from the War’s commencement — some of which […]

The Prisoners at Richmond — Union Troops Prisoners at Belle Isle

Harper’s Weekly – December 5, 1863

With the South suffering from shortages of all kinds by 1863, Union captives usually were almost starved, stripped of most of their clothing and valuables, given no blankets, and provided little or no shelter from the heat, cold and humidity. Most of the Union prisoners were sent to […]

The Chicago Platform (extract)

Harper’s Weekly – October 15, 1864

After Blacks began fighting for the Union and were captured, Jefferson Davis refused to exchange them, especially former slaves. Lincoln took a firm stand on principle and all exchanges stopped. In a satirical vignette in The Chicago Platform, a critically important 1864 pre-election cartoon, Nast showed a Union […]

The Ogre of Andersonville

Painting – 1867

Nast never depicted Georgia’s Andersonville Prison during the course of the war. Unhappy at Harper’s Weekly because of conflicts with his editor, George William Curtis, Nast left for a year at the end of May 1867. He spent the next six months creating a moving panorama consisting of 33 nine-by-twelve foot […]

The Hero of Gettysburg

Phunny Phellow – August 1863

Gettysburg

In contrast to his serious, solemn and often grim Civil War illustrations in Harper’s Weekly — almost all of which were signed — Nast had a platform in Phunny Phellow where he could be unrestrained, even boisterous — and anonymous. From 1859 until 1873 (when he signed an exclusivity […]

The Press on the Field

Harper’s Weekly – April 30 1864

While devastating to the country as a whole, the Civil War provided a tremendous boost to the newspaper business in general and to the illustrated press in particular. Radio was a half century away and photography was limited to still pictures. (Photographers needed wagons, chemicals, special apparatus, long […]

How the Copperheads Obtain Their Votes

Harper’s Weekly – November 12, 1864

This post-dated cartoon was available to Harper’s readers six days before the upcoming Presidential election on November 8. The cover story described forging of military votes, including accounts of Copperheads — Confederate sympathizers in the North — copying the names of dead Union soldiers from their graves and […]

The Union Christmas Dinner

Harper’s Weekly – December 31, 1864

Of the 42 cartoons relating to Christmas that Thomas Nast drew for Harper’s Weekly, The Union Christmas Dinner probably had the least to do with the holiday and the most to do with politics. Its allegorical political message was twofold: overtly, Sectional Reconciliation; more subtly but equally important, […]

Uncle Sam’s Rat Trap

Phunny Phellow – May 1865

Nast drew this cartoon in late March or early April, 1865, for the post-dated May issue of Phunny Phellow. Robert E. Lee was trapped in the cage, handing his sword to General Ulysses Grant who had besieged him in Petersburg, VA for ten months. Left to right, the other […]

President Lincoln Entering Richmond, April 4, 1865

Harper’s Weekly – February 24, 1866

April 2, 1865 saw the successful end of the ten-month siege of Petersburg, the gateway to Richmond, as Grant completed his encirclement of the city. Lee evacuated Petersburg late that night.

While in church on that same disastrous Sunday morning, Davis received an urgent message from Lee, to get […]

Palm Sunday

Harper’s Weekly – May 20, 1865

Following the evacuation of Richmond, General Robert E. Lee continued to suffer losses. After an exchange of correspondence with Grant, Lee surrendered to him on Sunday, April 9 in the home of Wilmer McLean in Appomattox Court House (the name of the village).

There were no reporters, artists or […]

Peace in Union

Painting – 1895

On April 9, 1895 — exactly 30 years after Appomattox and almost ten years after Grant died — Nast completed Peace In Union, a nine-by-twelve foot picture of the participants and witnesses at the surrender. The picture had been commissioned the previous year by Herman Kohlsaat, a wealthy Chicago entrepreneur and […]

The Capture of Jeff Davis of the C.S.A.

Phunny Phellow– July 1865

Of the many villains on Nast’s lifetime list, Jeff Davis probably ranked first. He hated and despised Davis as a cowardly traitor who should have been tried, convicted and hanged for treason. Davis, a year younger than Lincoln, was a West Point graduate who after serving in the Mexican War, […]

Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Voyage of Life

Harper’s Weekly – October 7, 1871

During Nast’s era, William Shakespeare’s plays were an inherent part of the school curriculum. In addition to reading and writing, Shakespeare was used to help teach history, civics, elocution and ethics. Even relatively uneducated people were attracted to Shakespearean theatre after their […]

The Immortal Light of Genius

Painting – 1896

On a trip to London in 1894, Nast received a commission from his English friend Henry Irving, the greatest Shakespearean actor and producer of the past quarter-century. Irving, who would be knighted a year later, and Nast knew each other well from their previous trans-Atlantic […]

Altered Condition of Affairs

New York Illustrated News – November 11, 1861

In November 1861, Nast’s cartoon on the subject of European funding for the South featured Jeff Davis trying to sell Confederate bonds collateralized by cotton. Nast used Shakespeare’s Henry IV (Part I): “I can call spirits from the vasty deep” said Glendower to Hotspur; “Why so […]

The Guilty Conscience; or, Who’s that Knocking at the Door?

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 […]

Not “Love,” But Justice

Harper’s Weekly – June 26, 1869

Brother Jonathan was a British-originated symbol for America — used by both English and American cartoonists — who generally interacted with John Bull, the symbol for England. However, Nast only used him once in his 25 years there, and then in an unorthodox manner.

In the spring of 1869, […]

“What a Fall Was There My Countrymen!”

Never-published Woodblock – March 1868

President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment charges were received in the Senate on March 4, 1868, but his actual trial didn’t begin until March 30. Nast had gone to Washington in mid-March hopping to see the proceedings, and drew this anticipatory never-published satire entitled What a Fall Was There My Countrymen; […]

Scene After the Verdict of Acquital

Illustrated Chicago News – May 1, 1868

This cartoon was published in the second issue of the short-lived Illustrated Chicago News. The paper had recruited Nast to become its political cartoonist, but didn’t make it past its eighth issue. After Andrew Johnson (King Andy) was acquitted, Nast depicted Senator Ben Wade offering the President […]

The Democratic Convention, New York, July 9th, 1868, Decline A.J. with Thanks

Harper’s Weekly – July 25, 1868

After his acquittal and for the rest of his term, Johnson let military reconstruction proceed under General Grant without making waves. Nast depicted him being rejected by the Democratic Party when — his hobby horse destroyed — King Andy uttered the famous last words of Shakespeare’s Richard III […]

“Farewell, a Long Farewell, to All My Greatness!”

Harper’s Weekly – March 13, 1869

When his term ended, President Andrew Johnson went home to Greeneville, Tennessee after refusing to attend President Ulysses Grant’s Inauguration. Nast turned to Shakespeare once again for King Andy’s “Farewell, a Long Farewell to All My Greatness!” Cardinal Wolsey spoke the line on learning of his dismissal by […]

The “Liberal” Conspirators (Who, You All Know, Are Honorable Men)

Harper’s Weekly – March 16, 1872

Ulysses Grant was Thomas Nast’s all-time hero, appearing in more than 100 cartoons; only one — dealing with a scandalous appointment — was negative. After Nast’s dominant role in bringing down Boss Tweed, Grant and his key associates recruited Nast for his 1872 reelection campaign.

A group of five […]

A Few Washington Sketches — In the Senate

Harper’s Weekly – March 23, 1872

Senator Lyman Trumbull (IL) was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 1871, he and Senator Carl Schurz had created a tempest in a teapot by charging that the government violated its neutrality toward Prussia by selling small arms to France during the previous year’s Franco-Prussian War. Senator […]

United States Senate Theatre

Harper’s Weekly – March 30, 1872

Nast detested Carl Schurz even more than Horace Greeley, and attacked him about 60 times during Grant’s presidency. At their first meeting in Washington in early 1869 when Schurz was a brand new Senator, they conversed in German. Schurz compared the American government unfavorably with Germany’s, ending with […]

Not So Easily Played Upon

Harper’s Weekly – April 27, 1872

Schurz’s long legs were his primary exaggerated feature for the caricaturist. Another attribute that Nast frequently “played to” was his musical talent, usually on the piano. Both before and after the Cincinnati Convention that nominated Greeley, he directly accused Schurz of lying about the French Arms controversy among […]

A Step in the Right Direction

Harper’s Weekly – June 6, 1874

Earlier in 1874, as two conflicting factions competed for state control of Reconstruction in Arkansas, Grant stepped in by backing the elected Republican — a former slaveholder and Union Army veteran — who re-enfranchised ex-Confederates among other actions. Many of his backers then switched to a carpetbagger supported […]

“How Many Times Shall Caesar Bleed in Sport”

Harper’s Weekly – November 21, 1874

This cover cartoon depicted a Shakespearean scene from Julius Caesar featuring James Gordon Bennett, Jr. (Herald) and Whitelaw Reid (Tribune) with their broken pens and spilled ink displaying “The end of Grantism” and ““Caesarism is Dead.”

“Upon What Meat Doth This Our Caesar Feed That He Hath Grown So Great?”

Harper’s Weekly – December 5, 1874

Perhaps Nast’s best Caesarism cartoon was timed to appear at Thanksgiving, as he feasted on puns. Once again, he went to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Act I), quoting the negative question from Cassius.

Emperor Ulysses Grant presided at a White House “Editorial Banquet,” carving Bennett’s “Intelligence Department” brain (Tete de […]

A Moonshine Scene

Harper’s Weekly – March 27, 1875

The specter of Caesarism disappeared on May 29, 1875, when Grant wrote a long letter denying that he had any intention of seeking a third term. The Weekly published Grant’s complete text underneath the cartoon.

The President was tired and discouraged by the continuing economic depression, scandals and Southern […]

Can He?

Harper’s Weekly – February 23, 1878

In 1878, Nast punned by using Bottom the Weaver, the Ass from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to represent the Greenback Party, which had organized two years earlier. James Weaver, a former Republican, was a prominent promoter; he was elected to Congress from Iowa in 1878 and received […]

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Nomination

Harper’s Weekly – July 3, 1880

In 1880, the Democratic platform called for hard money, a position that Nast had always endorsed. In protest, the inflationist Greenback Party nominated Iowa Congressman James Weaver as its third-party candidate. He ended up winning almost three percent of the popular vote after being the first Presidential candidate […]

An Appeal to Marble

Harper’s Weekly – October 26, 1878

In 1876, the winner of the election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden could not be decided until the 19 electoral votes of four contested states — Louisiana (8), South Carolina (7), Florida (3) and Oregon (1) — were determined. If Tilden received just […]

Senator Tweed in a New Role

Harper’s Weekly – April 26, 1870

New York had both a city and an overlapping county government, providing duplicate opportunities for patronage and graft. The Common Council/Aldermen (“Forty Thieves”) prepared the City budget, while the Board of Supervisors prepared the County budget. Each body could levy taxes and issue bonds. Some individuals worked for […]

Our Modern Falstaff Reviewing His Army

Harper’s Weekly – November 5, 1870

The Irish support for the Tweed Ring peaked on Election Day when they were to vote illegally in as many election districts as possible, using false identifications and addresses — taverns, brothels and vacant lots included. In 1870, Mayor Oakey Hall created additional election districts to make repeat […]

“Et Tu, Brute? — Then Fall, Caesar”

Harper’s Weekly – January 27, 1872

Two months after Boss Tweed was beaten in the 1871 election, Nast depicted his frontman, Governor John Hoffman killing his proverbial father in a replay of French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Death of Caesar. He probably was stimulated by a current production of Shakespeare’s […]

Touchstone

Harper’s Weekly – January 6, 1872

Mayor Abraham Oakey Hall, or A. Oakey Hall as he signed himself, was the Ring’s advisor on most legislative and legal matters. Nast referred to him on occasion as “O.K. Haul.”

If Tweed had been able to elect John Hoffman as Governor in 1866, […]

Symbols

Shakespeare’s Voyage of Life

Harper’s Weekly – October 7, 1871

During Nast’s era, William Shakespeare’s plays were an inherent part of the school curriculum. In addition to reading and writing, Shakespeare was used to help teach history, civics, elocution and ethics. Even relatively uneducated people were attracted to Shakespearean theatre after their […]

The Immortal Light of Genius

Painting – 1896

On a trip to London in 1894, Nast received a commission from his English friend Henry Irving, the greatest Shakespearean actor and producer of the past quarter-century. Irving, who would be knighted a year later, and Nast knew each other well from their previous trans-Atlantic […]

Altered Condition of Affairs

New York Illustrated News – November 11, 1861

In November 1861, Nast’s cartoon on the subject of European funding for the South featured Jeff Davis trying to sell Confederate bonds collateralized by cotton. Nast used Shakespeare’s Henry IV (Part I): “I can call spirits from the vasty deep” said Glendower to Hotspur; “Why so […]

The Guilty Conscience; or, Who’s that Knocking at the Door?

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 […]

Not “Love,” But Justice

Harper’s Weekly – June 26, 1869

Brother Jonathan was a British-originated symbol for America — used by both English and American cartoonists — who generally interacted with John Bull, the symbol for England. However, Nast only used him once in his 25 years there, and then in an unorthodox manner.

In the spring of 1869, […]

“What a Fall Was There My Countrymen!”

Never-published Woodblock – March 1868

President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment charges were received in the Senate on March 4, 1868, but his actual trial didn’t begin until March 30. Nast had gone to Washington in mid-March hopping to see the proceedings, and drew this anticipatory never-published satire entitled What a Fall Was There My Countrymen; […]

Scene After the Verdict of Acquital

Illustrated Chicago News – May 1, 1868

This cartoon was published in the second issue of the short-lived Illustrated Chicago News. The paper had recruited Nast to become its political cartoonist, but didn’t make it past its eighth issue. After Andrew Johnson (King Andy) was acquitted, Nast depicted Senator Ben Wade offering the President […]

The Democratic Convention, New York, July 9th, 1868, Decline A.J. with Thanks

Harper’s Weekly – July 25, 1868

After his acquittal and for the rest of his term, Johnson let military reconstruction proceed under General Grant without making waves. Nast depicted him being rejected by the Democratic Party when — his hobby horse destroyed — King Andy uttered the famous last words of Shakespeare’s Richard III […]

“Farewell, a Long Farewell, to All My Greatness!”

Harper’s Weekly – March 13, 1869

When his term ended, President Andrew Johnson went home to Greeneville, Tennessee after refusing to attend President Ulysses Grant’s Inauguration. Nast turned to Shakespeare once again for King Andy’s “Farewell, a Long Farewell to All My Greatness!” Cardinal Wolsey spoke the line on learning of his dismissal by […]

The “Liberal” Conspirators (Who, You All Know, Are Honorable Men)

Harper’s Weekly – March 16, 1872

Ulysses Grant was Thomas Nast’s all-time hero, appearing in more than 100 cartoons; only one — dealing with a scandalous appointment — was negative. After Nast’s dominant role in bringing down Boss Tweed, Grant and his key associates recruited Nast for his 1872 reelection campaign.

A group of five […]

A Few Washington Sketches — In the Senate

Harper’s Weekly – March 23, 1872

Senator Lyman Trumbull (IL) was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 1871, he and Senator Carl Schurz had created a tempest in a teapot by charging that the government violated its neutrality toward Prussia by selling small arms to France during the previous year’s Franco-Prussian War. Senator […]

United States Senate Theatre

Harper’s Weekly – March 30, 1872

Nast detested Carl Schurz even more than Horace Greeley, and attacked him about 60 times during Grant’s presidency. At their first meeting in Washington in early 1869 when Schurz was a brand new Senator, they conversed in German. Schurz compared the American government unfavorably with Germany’s, ending with […]

Not So Easily Played Upon

Harper’s Weekly – April 27, 1872

Schurz’s long legs were his primary exaggerated feature for the caricaturist. Another attribute that Nast frequently “played to” was his musical talent, usually on the piano. Both before and after the Cincinnati Convention that nominated Greeley, he directly accused Schurz of lying about the French Arms controversy among […]

A Step in the Right Direction

Harper’s Weekly – June 6, 1874

Earlier in 1874, as two conflicting factions competed for state control of Reconstruction in Arkansas, Grant stepped in by backing the elected Republican — a former slaveholder and Union Army veteran — who re-enfranchised ex-Confederates among other actions. Many of his backers then switched to a carpetbagger supported […]

“How Many Times Shall Caesar Bleed in Sport”

Harper’s Weekly – November 21, 1874

This cover cartoon depicted a Shakespearean scene from Julius Caesar featuring James Gordon Bennett, Jr. (Herald) and Whitelaw Reid (Tribune) with their broken pens and spilled ink displaying “The end of Grantism” and ““Caesarism is Dead.”

“Upon What Meat Doth This Our Caesar Feed That He Hath Grown So Great?”

Harper’s Weekly – December 5, 1874

Perhaps Nast’s best Caesarism cartoon was timed to appear at Thanksgiving, as he feasted on puns. Once again, he went to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Act I), quoting the negative question from Cassius.

Emperor Ulysses Grant presided at a White House “Editorial Banquet,” carving Bennett’s “Intelligence Department” brain (Tete de […]

A Moonshine Scene

Harper’s Weekly – March 27, 1875

The specter of Caesarism disappeared on May 29, 1875, when Grant wrote a long letter denying that he had any intention of seeking a third term. The Weekly published Grant’s complete text underneath the cartoon.

The President was tired and discouraged by the continuing economic depression, scandals and Southern […]

Can He?

Harper’s Weekly – February 23, 1878

In 1878, Nast punned by using Bottom the Weaver, the Ass from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to represent the Greenback Party, which had organized two years earlier. James Weaver, a former Republican, was a prominent promoter; he was elected to Congress from Iowa in 1878 and received […]

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Nomination

Harper’s Weekly – July 3, 1880

In 1880, the Democratic platform called for hard money, a position that Nast had always endorsed. In protest, the inflationist Greenback Party nominated Iowa Congressman James Weaver as its third-party candidate. He ended up winning almost three percent of the popular vote after being the first Presidential candidate […]

An Appeal to Marble

Harper’s Weekly – October 26, 1878

In 1876, the winner of the election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden could not be decided until the 19 electoral votes of four contested states — Louisiana (8), South Carolina (7), Florida (3) and Oregon (1) — were determined. If Tilden received just […]

Senator Tweed in a New Role

Harper’s Weekly – April 26, 1870

New York had both a city and an overlapping county government, providing duplicate opportunities for patronage and graft. The Common Council/Aldermen (“Forty Thieves”) prepared the City budget, while the Board of Supervisors prepared the County budget. Each body could levy taxes and issue bonds. Some individuals worked for […]

Our Modern Falstaff Reviewing His Army

Harper’s Weekly – November 5, 1870

The Irish support for the Tweed Ring peaked on Election Day when they were to vote illegally in as many election districts as possible, using false identifications and addresses — taverns, brothels and vacant lots included. In 1870, Mayor Oakey Hall created additional election districts to make repeat […]

“Et Tu, Brute? — Then Fall, Caesar”

Harper’s Weekly – January 27, 1872

Two months after Boss Tweed was beaten in the 1871 election, Nast depicted his frontman, Governor John Hoffman killing his proverbial father in a replay of French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Death of Caesar. He probably was stimulated by a current production of Shakespeare’s […]

Touchstone

Harper’s Weekly – January 6, 1872

Mayor Abraham Oakey Hall, or A. Oakey Hall as he signed himself, was the Ring’s advisor on most legislative and legal matters. Nast referred to him on occasion as “O.K. Haul.”

If Tweed had been able to elect John Hoffman as Governor in 1866, […]

Lincoln

Latest Portrait of Mr. Lincoln

New York Illustrated News– March 2, 1861

The day before his fifty-second birthday, Lincoln and his family left Springfield on a twelve-day trip to Washington. The train made numerous stops where Lincoln gave short non-controversial speeches, attended lunches or dinners, and sometimes spent the night in a hotel.

Between Cleveland and Buffalo, the train made […]

Mr. Lincoln Taking the Oath of Office in the Front of the Capitol

New York Illustrated News – March 16, 1861

Nast’s cover illustration of the Inauguration was a disaster, featuring a supposed image of Chief Justice Roger Taney administering the oath of office to Lincoln. Taney was two weeks shy of his 84th birthday, and the man in the picture looked to be in his […]

The Grand Peace Overture to “Our Wayward Sisters”

Phunny Phellow – August 1864

In July 1864, President Abraham Lincoln’s reelection chances looked dismal, primarily because the Civil War was dragging on in Georgia and Virginia. Northern morale was at a low. Within his cabinet, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair and, apparently, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton favored peace negotiations. Outside, New York publishers […]

The Emancipation of the Negroes, January, 1863 the Past and the Future

Harper’s Weekly – January 24, 1863

Although the victory at Antietam was not decisive — as it could have been under a general like Ulysses Grant — it was still sufficient for Lincoln to proclaim that all slaves in states and/or territory within states controlled by the Confederacy would be emancipated on January 1, […]

The Union Christmas Dinner

Harper’s Weekly – December 31, 1864

Of the 42 cartoons relating to Christmas that Thomas Nast drew for Harper’s Weekly, The Union Christmas Dinner probably had the least to do with the holiday and the most to do with politics. Its allegorical political message was twofold: overtly, Sectional Reconciliation; more subtly but equally important, […]

President Lincoln Entering Richmond, April 4, 1865

Harper’s Weekly – February 24, 1866

April 2, 1865 saw the successful end of the ten-month siege of Petersburg, the gateway to Richmond, as General Ulysses Grant completed his encirclement of the city. Robert E. Lee evacuated Petersburg late that night.

While in church on that same disastrous Sunday morning, Jefferson Davis received an urgent […]

Palm Sunday

Harper’s Weekly – May 20, 1865

The first half of April 1865 was dominated by two “A” news events — Appomattox and Assassination — separated by only five days. The second story so overwhelmed the first that neither Harper’s Weekly or Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper gave General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to General Ulysses Grant […]

Abraham Lincoln and the Drummer-Boy

Harper’s Weekly – April 27, 1867

Nast waited two years to draw his last picture of Lincoln as a real person, timing it for the second anniversary of his death. On its cover page, the Weekly quoted an incident taken from Six Months at the White House, a book of reminiscences about the President […]

Inflation

By Inflation You Will Burst

Harper’s Weekly – December 20, 1873

The Civil War had been financed with $400 million of paper money (called greenbacks because of their green ink) in addition to gold and silver (known as specie). Beginning in 1865, Treasury Secretary Hugh McCulloch redeemed $44 million […]

Benjamin Butler

Harper’s Weekly – April 11, 1874, May 8, 1874, May 16 1874 (extracts)

President Ulysses Grant was in the middle on inflation. Remembering his first-hand experience as a farmer and a tanner, he could empathize with failing Western growers and manufacturers. With the President’s approval, Treasury Secretary William Richardson had increased the money supply […]

A General Blow Up – Dead Asses Kicking a Live Lion

Harper’s Weekly – May 16, 1874

It took political courage to veto the Inflation Bill, so Nast’s depiction of President Ulysses Grant as a lion was apt. The Fine-Ass Committee of Grant’s mid-Western Republican opponents — Congressmen Ben Butler (MA) and William (“Pig Iron”) Kelley (PA), and Senators […]

“Peevish School-boys, Worthless of Such Honor”

Harper’s Weekly – June 6, 1874

Three weeks after lionizing President Grant for vetoing the Inflation Bill, Nast — in an unusual move — derided its Republican Senatorial sponsors who had been sharply vritical of him for criticizing them. The opposition press described Nast’s cartoon as “Brutal,” “Disgusting” and “Degrading.” One of the signs […]

“To This We Should Return with the Least Practicable Delay.” — U.S. Grant

Harper’s Weekly – January 9, 1875

Benjamin Bristow became Treasury Secretary in June 1874. He worked closely with Ohio Senator John Sherman to craft the Specie Payment Resumption Act which would allow greenbacks to be redeemed for gold. Grant called for its approval in his December message to Congress, and it passed on January […]

“Hush-a-bye (Rag) Baby, Be Still!”

Harper’s Weekly – February 12, 1876

As President Grant began his last full year in office, inflation was under control, and the Rag Baby was asleep on the Congressional shelf.

Hen(dricks)-pecked

Harper’s Weekly – August 5, 1876

After the Democratic Party nominate Samuel Tilden, a firm believer in hard money (specie), for President in 1876, an anti-Tilden group engineered Thomas Hendricks, a soft-money politician from Indiana, on to theh ticket as his running mate.

In this cartoon, Hen(dricks)-Pecked, Father Tilden fed the Rag Baby “Democratic Platform […]

A Hard Summer for the Soft Rag Baby

Harper’s Weekly – December 29, 1866

Three weeks later, the inebriated Rag Baby thumbed his nose as Mother Hendricks happily watched. Father Tilden had fed it “High Bock Beer” when “Congress Water” didn’t work.

The Elastic Democratic (Deformed) Tiger

Harper’s Weekly – August 5, 1876

Indiana Governor Thomas Hendricks, the runner-up to Samuel Tilden, reluctantly accepted the Vice Presidential slot on the ticket. The two men had a major policy difference — hard vs. soft money. Tilden had always been a specie (gold and silver coinage) supporter, but Hendricks, with a large agricultural […]

“Ideal Money”

Harper’s Weekly – January 19, 1878

Henry Watterson, the influential Democratic editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, was a longtime personal friend and political target of Nast. They clashed over inflation among many other issues.

In early 1878, Watterson editorialized in his paper that voters could decree that even soft-soap money could be used as currency […]

Can He?

Harper’s Weekly – February 23, 1878

Nast was not a fan of Republican President Rutherford Hayes who succeeded his idol, Ulysses Grant, in the White House. Hayes had reversed Grant’s policies by removing Federal troops from the Reconstructed Southern States and enabling ex-Confederates to control their state governments.

The money question was of prime importance […]

Dance to Your Daddy

Harper’s Weekly – March 16, 1878

President Ulysses Grant tried to put the money question to bed when he vetoed the Inflation Bill (relating to greenbacks) in 1874, and signed the Resumption Act (relating to gold) in January 1875; it was scheduled to become operative four years later, in the middle of Rutherford Hayes’s […]

The First Step Toward National Bankruptcy

Harper’s Weekly – February 16, 1878

After President Rutherford Hayes took office, his principal monetary opponent — and Nast’s primary target — was Stanley Matthews, Ohio’s junior Senator and fellow Republican. After Hayes appointed Senator John Sherman, another Ohio friend, as Treasury Secretary, the Ohio legislature — with the President’s blessing — chose Matthews […]

The Sooner the Better

Harper’s Weekly – December 14, 1878

As over-valued silver piled up in the Treasury, it didn’t circulate like gold. On occasion, Nast expanded his use of the silver trap by portraying it as the cause of inflation via Uncle Sam’s increasingly swollen leg. He updated Uncle Sam’s condition towards the end of each year.

Just […]

Resumption (?)

Harper’s Weekly – November 29, 1879

A year later, the swelling was much larger as Uncle Sam pleaded with Treasury Secretary Sherman to do something about the silver situation.

Doctors Differ

Harper’s Weekly – December 25, 1880

After President Rutherford Hayes became a lame duck in 1880, an almost unrecognizable Uncle Sam had his leg inflated to the point where he couldn’t even get out of bed. Nast noted that “silver (political money) goes into the U.S. Treasury and stays there” — with no circulation […]

Presidential Election Losers

Governor Seymour’s Speech to the New York Rioters

Harper’s Weekly – October 31, 1868

In 1868, Democrat Horatio Seymour ran for President against Nast’s idolized hero, General Ulysses S. Grant. The unshown left half of this cartoon featured a full-length illustration of Grant. Above him was “Let Us Have Peace,” his campaign slogan. Below was his […]

“Something that Will Blow Over”

Harper’s Weekly – June 15, 1872

When Nast’s idol, Ulysses Grant, ran for a second term in 1872, his unexpected opponent was Horace Greeley, publisher of the New York Tribune. Greeley was the candidate of the anti-Grant (but still Republican) Liberal Party, and ultimately […]

What I Know About Horace Greeley

Harper’s Weekly – January 20, 1872

Horace Greeley had owned a 75-acre farm near Chappaqua, 35 miles north of New York City, since 1853. In 1870, he published a book entitled What I Know of Farming. The title was Nast’s springboard. He drew “What I Know About . . .” papers sticking out of […]

The Cincinnati Convention, in a Pickwickian Sense

Harper’s Weekly – April 13, 1872

Greeley was nominated on May 21, 1872 at a convention in Cincinnati. About a month before the convention, Nast depicted it in a classic scene from The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens; he was about to illustrate that novel for Harper & Bros. and also had used short […]

Barnum’s New “What Is It”

Harper’s Weekly – August 17, 1872

This cartoon featured all three of Nast’s symbols: Gratz Brown’s tag on Horace Greeley’s white coat, and the paper sticking out of his pocket which read “What I Know About Myself.”

During the campaign, Nast took occasional pot shots at Greeley for his consistent inconsistency. Using Greeley’s close friendship […]

Any Thing to Get In

Harper’s Weekly – August 10, 1872

One of Nast’s more imaginative Democratic Party-takeover cartoons featured Horace Greeley as a Trojan horse — with Gratz Brown as his tail and Carl Schurz as his coachman — outside the walled and moated fortress defending Washington. The Ku Klux Klan was climbing aboard, ready to open the […]

Apollo Amusing the Gods (extract)

Harper’s Weekly – November 16, 1872

Nast portrayed Horace Greeley’s Vice-Presidential candidate, Gratz Brown, as a tag or animal tail about ten times as often as he depicted him as a man.

At a Yale commencement dinner earlier that summer, Brown reportedly got so drunk that he buttered his watermelon. In a post-election cartoon with […]

“We Are on the Home Stretch.” — New York Tribune, October 9, 1872

Harper’s Weekly – November 2, 1872

As the campaign headed into its final weeks, Nast used the home stretch as a theme for three successive issues. Its origin went back to an optimistic editorial which Whitelaw Reid published in the Tribune following Democratic losses in bellwether state elections on October 8: “Friends, we are […]

A Tammany Rat

Harper’s Weekly – November 7, 1874

Samuel Jones Tilden, 62, the Democratic candidate for President in 1876, was smart, knowledgeable about business, and a canny but devious politician. As perhaps the most eminent railroad lawyer in the country prior to the Civil War, he became wealthy and owned a comfortable home in New York […]

Slippery Sam

Harper’s Weekly – August 12, 1876

In February 1875, a month after his inauguration as Governor of New York, Samuel Tilden suffered a stroke which distorted his countenance. Until he became a likely presidential candidate a year later, Nast harpooned him without showing the effects of his malady.

Nast’s change in portrayal probably came from […]

The Elastic Democratic (Deformed) Tiger

Harper’s Weekly – August 5, 1876

Indiana Governor Thomas Hendricks, the runner-up to Samuel Tilden, reluctantly accepted the Vice Presidential slot on the ticket. The two men had a major policy difference — hard vs. soft money. Tilden had always been a specie (gold and silver coinage) supporter, but Hendricks, with a large agricultural […]

Embalmed — That They May Keep until 1880 — or Longer

Harper’s Weekly – July 7, 1877

In 1876, the winner of the November 7, 1876 election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden could not be decided until the 19 electoral votes of four contested states — Louisiana (8), South Carolina (7), Florida (3) and Oregon (1) — were determined. If Tilden […]

Cipher Mumm(er)y

Harper’s Weekly – November 2, 1878

The winner of the November 7, 1876 election between Republican Rutherford Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden could not be decided until the 19 electoral votes of four contested states — Louisiana (8), South Carolina (7), Florida (3) and Oregon (1) — were determined. If Tilden received just one […]

“The Plumed Knight”

Harper’s Weekly – June 5, 1880

During his nominating speech for James Blaine at the 1876 Convention, renowned Illinois orator Robert Ingersoll likened him to “an armed warrior, a plumed knight, marching down the halls of Congress and throwing his shining lance . . . against the brazen forehead of every traitor to his […]

Too Heavy to Carry

Harper’s Weekly – June 14, 1884

In 1884, James Blaine finally won the Republican nomination on the fourth ballot, beating President Chester Arthur whom Nast favored for a second term. (He had succeeded James Garfield who was assassinated in 1881). Nast, the Harpers, and The New York Times refused to back Blaine and supported […]

Brazening It Out

Harper’s Weekly – September 27, 1884

Blaine was proud of his Congressional achievements. He was elected to the House in 1863, served three terms as speaker (1869-1875), and became a Senator late in 1876. In 1881, he served briefly as James Garfield’s Secretary of State, where he was involved in another scandal involving a […]

The “Great American” Game of Public Office for Private Gain

Harper’s Weekly – August 9, 1884

One of the key planks in James Blaine’s 1884 campaign was Protection — high tariffs to protect working men and farmers against free trade. Nast disagreed. Here, he utilized three of his symbols to ridicule Blaine and make his point.

The Plumed Knight was on his hobby horse (symbolizing […]

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