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 meeting at Cooper Union provided it when highly respected William Evarts — Republican lawyer, orator and future statesman — declared that the Ring leaders “boast of their corruption and despise honest men. They say ‘What are you going to do about it?’ I think they will find out what we are going to do about it.”

Nast adopted the question, added “Well” in front to make it more contemptuously combative. He put the words in Tweed’s mouth, employed it as his serial punchline through to victory, and the Times echoed it. In conjunction with Nast’s accompanying cartoon content, it inspired thousands of ordinary citizens to vote the Ring out of office.

The full slogan first emerged in Under the Thumb in which Nast emphasized the almost tangible power of Tweed’s fist crushing Manhattan. In contrast, free and prosperous New Jersey beckoned across the Hudson, and Nast moved his family there about two months later.