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; the line was taken from the beginning of Mark Antony’s funeral oration in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Act III, Scene 2). An angry Columbia dumped King Andy out of his throne as his symbols of power, an orb and a scepter, went flying. (Columbia was the female equivalent of Uncle Sam.)
This image is from the original wood block which was preserved in the files of Nast’s Washington host, Norton Chipman, to whom he gave it. He had to draw everything backwards on the wood block, as is evident in the title.
Nast was unhappy with George William Curtis, his editor at Harper’s Weekly, and had left in May 1867 to develop a traveling panorama (called the Caricaturama) with 33 nine-by-twelve foot pictures. An artistic success, it failed in early 1868. Nast then made an arrangement with the Illustrated Chicago News, a hopeful imitator of Harper’s Weekly, which had recruited him to become its political cartoonist. In its first issue dated April 24, the newcomer boasted that it could “happily call him our own artist.” The Chicago paper folded after eight issues, so Nast never did submit this cartoon block to his would-be employer.