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Drawing the Line

Chapter 3.
‘Oppose Everything, Propose Nothing’

Influence and Power in the Political Cartoons of Thomas Nast

Fiona Deans Halloran Eastern Kentucky University

Thomas Nast was the most famous American cartoonist of the nineteenth century. His work influenced American politics, society, and art. In order to understand, and thus to use, political cartoons, historians need to analyse the relationship of the artist to the public. Does the work cater to public tastes, or lead the public in a direction dictated by the artist? Nast serves as an example of how difficult these questions can be to answer, and how complex the relationship between a cartoonist and his culture can be. This chapter argues that Nast both catered to the public and insisted on independence from it, and that his work should push historians to a much more careful and specific approach toward political cartooning as a form of popular culture.

Thomas Nast talked his way into his first job in 1856: he was barely fifteen years old. In order to win the post, Nast combined chutzpah with hard work, convincing his prospective employer to give a very young, untried artist a chance. Frank Leslie, editor, owner and founder of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News and himself the product of a lifetime of brash opportunism, told the teenager that if he could produce an acceptable drawing of the Christopher Street ferry at the moment of embarkation then a job might be his. Nast laboured to produce an impressive drawing, and never forgot his euphoria when Leslie accepted it and hired him as a staff illustrator.1 The pay was four dollars a week.2

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News provided a valuable education in the delicate balance between art and commerce. Nast learned the importance of sensationalism. Leslie’s dealt as much in tragedy and scandal as it did news. So as Nast worked under the supervision of experienced engravers – whitening drawings, reversing them, carving the images onto wooden blocks – he learned not only the mechanics of producing popular illustrations, but also that illustrated journalism relied on a consuming public. That public must be satisfied.3

This training was to serve Nast well. As the most famous political cartoonist of his era, Nast’s work represented an influential voice in American politics. Senators and presidents learned to fear his pencil, and to flatter his vanity. But Nast never forgot the role of the public. Ordinary readers made him famous, and in turn he tried to make his drawings into a dialogue with them about current affairs. The influence of his audience, and his reaction to it, pose a difficult but fascinating puzzle to any historian interested in cartooning. On the one hand, Nast clearly courted an audience whose power he understood. On the other hand, Nast repeatedly asserted his independence of thought. In order to use political cartoons with sophistication, historians need to understand the relationship between political cartoonists and the public. Nast serves as an example of the complexity of that task.

Nast carefully cultivated public attention, appealed to public tastes, and forged a bond with his audience in both political and emotional terms. One method was to sample American literary culture. Quotes from newspapers, speeches, advertisements, plays, books and popular entertainment linked Nast’s ideas to the public discourse. A reader perceived that through Nast the political world in all its complexity could be distilled to a single insight. In many cases, the insight Nast offered his readers cascaded across several interlinked references.

For example, in 1884, Nast protested the Republican Party nomination of James G. Blaine for president (see Figure 3.1). In ‘Death Before Dishonor’, the public, represented by Virginius, stands over the prostrate body of the Party. He has stabbed her to death in order to save her from the dishonour of Blaine’s nomination. Nast made a stark point. Blaine represented corruption, a deviation from the values of the Republicans. It would be better, Nast asserted, for the party to dissolve into its many factions than to accept this man as its leader.4

Figure 3.1. Thomas Nast, ‘Death Before Dishonor’.

Harper’s Weekly, 21 June 1884.

But who was Virginius? How were readers to know his name? Here, Nast demonstrated his dialogic approach to audience. Virginius appeared in at least two venues with which readers might be familiar. The first was Thomas Babington Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome. According to Macaulay, Virginius stabbed his own daughter in order to save her from enslavement – and subsequent sexual servitude – at the hands of corrupt public men. Her death sparked a revolt among the oppressed Roman people. Macaulay transformed Virginius into a symbol of popular resistance to the power of elite men, and Nast drew upon this view to blacken the reputation of James Blaine.5

Another source for the story of Virginius, one far darker, was Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. Nineteenth-Century Americans enjoyed public performances of Shakespeare’s work. Their familiarity with his plays and poems extended to passionate commitment to particular interpretations of major characters. For example, in 1849, New Yorkers rioted over competing interpretations of Macbeth.6 Thus, when Nast drew Virginius in 1884, he relied on public knowledge of Shakespeare. Readers were expected to recognize the connection: Titus Andronicus, his knife at Lavinia’s breast, taking a bloody revenge on his enemies. While Macaulay’s version focused on corruption, Shakespeare implied the rape and pollution of the party.7

Nast mentioned neither Macaulay nor Shakespeare in ‘Death Before Dishonor’. His audience understood the links and the meaning. In 1884 Republicans divided over the presidential nomination and the reform of the civil service. An important group of prominent Republicans refused to support Blaine. Nast commented on the split by presenting the argument of the bolters: within the Party, inequity and corruption bred betrayal and confusion. The potential danger to the Party itself, the purity of its intentions and the honor of its candidates, was immense. Nast pointed out to his audience not only the precipice upon which the Republicans stood, but also the heart of the problem. His audience already knew who Virginius represented, and against whom he wielded the knife.8

Another of Nast’s tricks to woo the audience was his tendency to repeat themes. If an idea worked once – for example the belligerent criminality of Boss Tweed or the indulgent self-satisfaction of Senator Charles Sumner – Nast returned to it again. Indeed, in several cases Nast recreated almost exactly the same image to update a comment. Thus, a faithful reader learned to recognize Nast’s greatest hits, and to appreciate the connections he drew among differing political issues. This method also allowed Nast to revisit a cartoon when circumstances changed.9

A third way to reach the audience relied on iconography. Nast’s cartoon world contained symbolic figures that his audience came to know. Columbia represented the nation, while a skeletal tiger revealed Nast’s disdain for Democratic efforts to regain office. These icons constituted visual shorthand. Regular readers decoded it easily and instantly. Like writers and comedians before and after him, Nast offered readers the pleasurable sensation of the running joke. To recognize the symbols was to become an insider, a participant with the cartoonist in the production of satire.

Here, as he did with cultural references, Nast found he could wink at the broad political knowledge of his readers. For example, during the 1872 presidential election, he inserted a paper titled ‘What I Know About …’ into the pocket of candidate Horace Greeley. One week the paper read, ‘What I Know About Wilkes Booth’, and showed Greeley shaking hands with the assassin’s ghost. Another cartoon changed the title to ‘What I Know About Lying’.10 Nast presumed familiarity on the part of his audience with a damning description of Greeley’s wartime behaviour published in 1872 under the title ‘What I Know About Horace Greeley’.11

Finally, Nast used sentiment to appeal to his readers. He joined them in grief and celebration.12 At other times, he thundered to them about the evils of corruption and other civil ills. In both cases, Nast treated his audience as respected collaborators. He did not attack them, he attacked with them. Readers often congratulated Nast on his work, emphasizing the way it touched hearts or sparked laughter. After the fall of the Tweed Ring, Schuyler Colfax wrote ‘with a heart full of joy’ to congratulate Nast, praising ‘the magnificent results’ of Nast’s work. Letters like Colfax’s appeared regularly. When Nast joined the lyceum circuit in 1873, audiences registered their approval of his work in applause, laughter, and ticket sales.13 Nast, his editors, and his biographer all point to the cartoonist’s ability to provoke readers in a variety of ways.

Harper’s Weekly provided Nast with a powerful platform. Though circulation numbers fluctuated, the paper routinely enjoyed subscription rates in excess of one hundred thousand for its weekly editions.14 Moreover, the paper sold at street-level news-stands, so many more readers saw his cover cartoons than those who bought it. In Nast’s case, readers represented an even wider group. The common practice of pasting cartoons and other visual media on the walls of saloons helped to distribute Nast’s drawings well beyond the readership of the journal.15

Nast understood that his fame, and the fortune it brought, depended on popularity. Despite this, Nast saw himself as an independent political thinker. He never forgot the power of the readers, but he never believed that they dictated his opinions. Instead, he asserted that his authority derived from his own unique insights. His ability to penetrate the reality of politics, to see its seamy underbelly and represent that in a visual form, made him a power in the land. More, Nast believed that he changed public opinion. He never catered to his audience – it followed his lead.

This is an interesting contradiction. Nast served a public whose predilections he learned at an early age. Yet he also insisted on his independence from that public, and his power over it. Nast serves as an example of one of the central problems posed by political cartoons and other forms of popular culture. He highlights the difficult task of determining what merely reflects public opinion as opposed to what shapes it. Nast published hundreds of political cartoons in a career which lasted more than forty years. In that time, he lampooned everything from monetary policy to the drinking habits of German immigrants. His body of work illustrates the complex challenge of differentiating influence and independence in political cartooning.

Take, for example, Nast’s approach to race. No simple thinker, Nast produced cartoons which attacked both the White Leagues and black legislators. He celebrated emancipation with sentimental drawings of black family life, work, and political activity. Then he suggested that in effect black voting mimicked the dangerous influence of Irish immigrants, because both groups brought little intelligence or education to the ballot box. Nast’s work on race is, therefore, extremely difficult to characterize. Two examples demonstrate the point.

In ‘Patience on a Monument’, Nast employed a variety of his favourite iconic devices (see Figure 3.2). Sitting atop an obelisk, the mourning black father bows his head before the violence of the forces arrayed against him. At the base, his wife and children lie dead. Nast never hesitated to depict violence in detail, in this case including blood pooling from the bodies. Along the central column, Nast quoted southern newspapers, demonstrating the breadth of hostility this man faces. On the left of the drawing, Irish thugs burn the Colored Orphan Asylum, a reference to the 1863 Draft Riots. On the right, KKK vigilantes loom. The image reeks of both defeat and warning. Its sympathy for the freedmen is unmistakable. Many other images made a similar point, establishing Nast as a defender of the rights, lives, and dignity of the freed slaves.16

Figure 3.2. Thomas Nast, ‘Patience on a Monument’.

Harper’s Weekly, 10 October 1868.

Figure 3.3. Thomas Nast, ‘The Ignorant Vote, Honors Are Easy’.

Harper’s Weekly, 9 December 1876.

‘The Ignorant Vote – Honors are Easy’ tells a very different tale (see Figure 3.3). Here, the scale balances a black man on the left and an Irish immigrant on the right. Eschewing his usual complexity for a simpler message, Nast asserts their parity before the ballot box. Whether it is the Irish Democratic voter or the Republican freeman, he argues, the problem is an electorate that is undereducated and culturally problematic. The freeman, drawn in a classic racist caricature, appears to grin emptily. The implied emotionalism, childlike simplicity, and gullibility evoked the stereotypes of blackface minstrelsy.17 The Irishman presented a different danger. Borrowed from a long tradition of anti-Irish caricature, his thrusting jaw and heavy boots asserted his menace. Whether it was his tendency to violence or the dangerous Roman Catholicism he carried with him, the Irish voter harmed American democracy, Nast asserted.18

Clearly, Nast could be sympathetic in one cartoon, condemnatory in the next. Determining the precise boundaries of his view of race is very difficult. Likewise, there is no easy way to connect his position to public opinion. At the very end of the Civil War, Nast supported the policies of the Radical Republicans, particularly with regard to amending the Constitution to provide voting rights for the freedmen. In this, he reflected the position of the few, rather than the many. He also espoused a utopian ideal for black families, something only a minority of Americans shared.19 Later, when the northern public began to tire of Reconstruction, Nast clung tenaciously to the idea that the national government could and should build a new southern society. Black Americans would be at its centre, as would Republican politics. Even as the North rejected this view and embraced the Compromise of 1877, Nast shrilly protested. Later, having alienated many Republicans by supporting a Democratic presidential candidate in 1884, Nast again asserted the potential for racial harmony in the South. Angry letters asked why Nast had betrayed the Party, to which Nast replied with cartoons that valourized the new Democratic president, Grover Cleveland.20

On the other hand, Nast’s sympathy for the freedmen in the face of southern vigilante violence reflected a widely held disgust on the part of the northern public. The idea that so many lives had been lost, and that so much treasure had been spent, only to surrender the South to midnight bands of ex-Confederates rankled with readers of Harper’s Weekly. Like his editor, Nast objected strenuously to any surrender of authority and applauded when President Grant struck back at the White Leagues. So Nast sometimes adopted positions which rejected popular opinion, but at other times the cartoonist happily joined his readers in the majority.21

Though Nast took a range of sometimes inconsistent positions politically, his basic principles remained unaltered. Nowhere is this more evident than in his treatment of the freedmen and their attackers. Nast harboured a powerful instinct to protect the weak and an almost equally powerful dedication to the sanctity of the family. Attacks on either aroused righteous indignation. During the war, his hero-worship of both Lincoln and Grant helped to produce wildly optimistic images of the consequences of emancipation. That optimism found its echo in his laudatory portraits of black soldiers, particularly when he championed black voting rights.22

The picture is mixed, though, with regard to racial equality. Like many Americans, Nast accepted the racist commonplaces of his time. The former slaves, he asserted in visual terms, lacked the educational and cultural tools necessary for full participation in American government; hence, his portrayal of black legislators in ‘Colored Rule in a Reconstructed State’as ignorant and comically inept.23 Likewise, his derisive depiction of black voters in ‘The Ignorant Vote’ points to his discomfort with offering the franchise to any voter who lacked basic skills: literacy, numeracy, and a working knowledge of the American system of government.24 Nast shared the worry expressed by many Americans as he watched Reconstruction insert freedmen directly into southern governments.

Nast reacted with outrage when Southerners began to reclaim their state governments, however. Vigilante groups aroused Nast’s towering ire. In image after image, Nast railed against the Redemption movement, equating it with the Confederacy, its supporters with rioters, and its values with the evils of slavery. Whatever Nast might think about reconstruction politics in a state like South Carolina, his gut rejected nightriders, Black Codes, and the reassertion of Southern white supremacy.25

Emotion occupied the vital centre of these cartoons. The power of his work came in part from his talent for cutting through layers of dignity to find the vulnerable pretensions of his opponents. It came, as well, from his sensitivity to governmental delay, distraction and waste. But most of all it originated in his transmission to the page of his feelings. The best of his work vibrates with the emotion of the moment: fear, anger, admiration or compassion. This quality explains why Nast’s audience tolerated his deviations from the majority view.

No apology appeared for Nast’s inconsistency; he needed none. The novelist and newspaper writer Fanny Fern, wife of Mrs. Nast’s cousin, James Parton, once wrote that she preferred people who asserted a bold identity. ‘Heaven save us,’ she wrote in the New York Ledger, ‘from colourless characters, what else soever it inflicts upon us: people who don’t know what they think till they ask somebody.’26 Nast must have pleased this indomitable woman. His opinions were his own, shaped by and responding to his audience but variable with his thoughts, the world at large, and even the tides of his feelings. If he changed his mind, his cartoons changed as well.

Perhaps this interpretation takes Nast’s opinions too seriously. Political cartooning, like the writing of editorials or newspaper publishing in general, requires a flexible mind. Nast might simply have adjusted his sentiments in accordance with changing circumstance. If so, then the changes in his work reflect neither public opinion – simply understood – nor his own ideas. Instead, they demonstrate the power of cynical gamesmanship. Some of Nast’s cartoons seem to confirm this approach. In 1871, Nast joined his editor and the editorial staff of the New York Times in an attack on William M. Tweed. The ‘Boss’, as Tweed was known, commanded a powerful Democratic machine. From his base at Tammany Hall, Tweed disbursed spoils, controlled metropolitan contracts, and exercised an enormous amount of political power. That power sprang, in part, from the votes of Irish immigrants. Nast’s portrayal of those constituents changed to suit the needs of the campaign.27

Compare, for example, the Irish workingman who appears in ‘The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things’ (Figure 3.4) and ‘This is a White Man’s Government’, to the same population as shown in 1871.28 Nast made no secret of his distaste for Irish immigrants. Indeed, he frequently argued that they represented a terrible threat to democratic values. His repeated use of the Draft Riots of 1863 as background reinforced his point. Immigrant workers were, according to his pencil, dirty, drunk, violent, superstitious, ignorant, and diseased – hardly the backbone of the city of New York, much less American society. Many Americans shared his opinion, so Nast risked nothing portraying Irish citizens so negatively.29 But as the Tweed campaign evolved, Nast increasingly portrayed the constituents of the Ring as honest, hardworking citizens. The Treasury, Nast pointed out, was empty to them, yet full of money for Tweed and his cronies to feast. In cartoons such as ‘The Rich Growing Richer, The Poor Growing Poorer’, the children of the working poor starved while Tweed wore diamond stickpins (see Figure 3.5). No longer dangerous, the workingman acted here as foil for the corruption of the Ring and a representative not only of his own ward but of all New Yorkers.30

Was this hypocrisy? Probably not. It reflected the same balance of compassion and disdain Nast displayed in his work on African-Americans. As a child, Nast played on the streets of lower Manhattan, observing the lives of poor immigrant families. An immigrant himself – Nast left Bavaria for the United States at age six – he knew their hardships. Thus, he sympathized profoundly with their plight. Tweed’s theft of city money enraged Nast. On the most basic level, Nast’s sense of fair play, honesty, and public ethics revolted against Tweed’s machine.

Figure 3.4. Thomas Nast, ‘The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things’.

Harper’s Weekly, 2 September 1871.

Figures 3.5 (Divided into two for the online version.) Thomas Nast, ‘The Rich Growing Richer, the Poor Growing Poorer’.

Harper’s Weekly, 2 September 1871.

Nast’s sympathy had clear limits, though. In 1863 Nast observed first-hand the Draft Riots. He watched as the children of rioters abused the body of a murdered policeman, dancing with glee as they poked him with sticks.31 Many of the rioters lived in Irish neighbourhoods. Nast’s horror at civil unrest focused on the Irish, and that focus remained in place for the rest of his career. In some ways, his approach to the Irish was the mirror-image of his views of black Americans. For them, Nast offered mostly sympathy, but some ridicule. For the Irish, the ridicule all but drowned out the limited compassion. Even as he honoured the Irish in 1871, in fact, his antipathy to them continued to appear. On November 18, for example, he revisited his anti-Irish stereotype in ‘Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg’,32 in which Nast represented the Democratic party as a golden goose killed by the combined evils of Irish immigrants and the Catholic Church.

Nast was operating here between two competing groups of readers. Regular subscribers to Harper’s Weekly agreed with Nast that Irish immigration represented a profound challenge to American democracy. They disliked Irish loyalty to the Democratic Party, as well. In the quest to destroy the Democratic machine, however, Nast’s potential to motivate Irish voters offered a second audience. If Nast could appeal to it, that audience promised increases in Nast’s popularity and power, the magazine’s circulation, and even the membership of the Republican Party in New York.

Like other political thinkers, Nast worked within a series of hierarchies. His antipathy for the Irish and his distaste for political corruption competed for his attention. During the Tweed campaign, Nast calculated the position most likely to arouse New York’s Irish voters. Without their support, there could be no hope of defeating the Ring. In the crusade against Tweed, the New York Times and Harper’s Weekly editorial pages focused on literal corruption. They printed financial records, testimony, and other evidence. Nast approached the campaign differently. For him, the Ring represented proof of urban decay. Political corruption threatened the very foundation of American, and New York, society.

Thus Nast elevated the crusade against the Ring above his certainty that Irish immigrants threatened American liberty. Instead of club-wielding thugs, Irish New Yorkers appeared as wronged citizens. Their money stolen, their needs unmet, they represented victims, rather than perpetrators. More viscerally than any editorial, Nast presented an honourable Irish voter, manipulated but deserving of better government. These images melded Nast’s sincere opposition to corruption with his self-interested desire for more authority and more fame. Within the context of his hierarchy of issues, honouring Irish New Yorkers demonstrated perception, not hypocrisy.

The Irish may represent the most difficult case to interpret in Nast’s repertoire. Did he reflect public opinion? First, the historian has to identify which public. At times, his work certainly reflected the opinions of the majority of Harper’s Weekly readers. Other times, Nast sought a new audience, and altered his work for its consumption. During the Tweed campaign Nast catered to the opinions of one public against the existing opinions of the other. In each case, he worked to convince, not merely to echo.

Age and influence blurred the line between Nast and his audience. After the defeat of ‘Boss’ Tweed, and the re-election of President Grant, Nast enjoyed a national reputation. Harper’s rewarded him financially, the political world rewarded him with access and flattery, and the public lauded his skill and paid to hear him talk and watch him draw. Fame, money and power brought confidence. Nast flouted the wishes of his audience much more flagrantly after 1872. At times, he actively opposed his readers. In cartoons depicting President Grant and during the chaotic presidential campaign of 1884, Nast exercised his power by refusing to reflect the audience at all.

Ulysses S. Grant – Union General, President of the United States, hero of the Union – was a drunk. Also, his administration seethed with corruption. Personally, little recommended Grant, while his inability to parse complex policy decisions approached the legendary. Grant’s enemies said all this and more. Sometimes his friends said the same. But not Thomas Nast. Cartoonists trade in insult, attack, and scandal. They specialize in puncturing the dignity of powerful men. Yet Nast employed none of these tools to portray the eighteenth president. Within the black and white world of Nast’s drawings, US Grant enjoyed a warm ray of approval which never faded and only wavered once. In this, Nast rejected public opinion, Republican politics, and an ever-mounting tide of scandal.33

Nast idolized Grant. Beginning in the war years, the Union soldier represented for Nast all that was pure and noble in northern culture. Of these men, Grant was the supreme example. Saviour of the Union, a simple man, Grant attracted Nast’s admiring attention from the first. Again and again, Nast used his pencil to flatter the president.34

Many Americans disagreed. As the scandals of the Grant administration mounted, Nast confronted a situation in which he and his audience differed. Even loyal Republicans divided on the question of Grant’s fitness for office. For the Liberal Republicans, Grant represented a drift toward the domination of government by unscrupulous men. The Liberals sought an alternative nomination, and failing that they broke away from the party, nominating Tribune editor Horace Greeley. Nast’s reply was to vilify Greeley and valorise Grant. In a storm of controversy and conflicting loyalties, Nast’s work reflected a combination of his political judgment and his personal beliefs.35

One of the great ironies of the campaign of 1872 lay in Nast’s role as a champion of Grant. As mentioned above, Nast had viciously attacked political corruption in the person of the Democratic boss William Tweed, blaming him for misuse of funds and using the civil service as a spoils bank. Similar charges were levelled at Grant by the Liberals, yet Nast refused to join them. So the champion of political purity in 1871 became the bulldog defender of a possibly-corrupt incumbent in 1872.36

In 1884, Nast again confronted a political controversy which threatened to separate him from his readers. In that year, Nast joined Harper’s Weekly and George William Curtis in opposing the nomination of James G. Blaine for president. A breakaway group of Republicans, dubbed ‘Mugwumps’, refused to accept Blaine as a party leader or nominee. Instead, these men supported Grover Cleveland, the Democratic candidate. Cleveland represented reform of the civil service and the spoils system in general, while Blaine laboured under a cloud of corruption allegations.37

The public divided across both party lines and disagreements about the reform movement. But many Americans, and most Republicans, believed it dishonourable to ‘bolt’ the party and reject the party’s candidate. Serious disagreement was acceptable, but only before the nomination. After the party selected Blaine, Republicans expected Nast and his associates to join the fight on the Republican side. Failure to do so, and support for the Democratic candidate, constituted a betrayal of the party.38

Thus, when Nast turned his pencil to the admirable qualities of Cleveland, and to the dishonourable Blaine, he flouted the wishes of many of his readers. Criticism poured in. But Nast insisted, as did the editorial staff of Harper’s Weekly, on choosing the candidate he believed to be the most honest. In the face of anger from his public, Nast held his ground. The public mattered. Nast understood the economics of his work. Still, he believed in the fundamental value of his own sincerity. If he could not support Blaine, the public might disagree, but at least it would respect him.39

A third example of Nast’s deviation from the public will complicates the picture further. While in 1872 and 1884 Nast chose to advocate a position unpopular with some readers, in 1877 he mistook the public mood. Opposing his editor, insisting on independence to draw from his convictions, Nast believed himself on the side of the readers. The controversy reveals the fact that cartoonists’ relationship with the audience relies on (sometimes faulty) perception, but also that cartoonist and audience are not the only two players in the drama.

The fight cantered on the end of reconstruction. By 1876, many Americans found the reconstruction project a frustrating failure. Rather than a re-made South, economically thriving and culturally egalitarian, northerners observed a South convulsed with the political violence of the Redemption movement. Nast hated Redemption. He supported the civil rights of the freedmen and opposed vigilante violence. More, his prejudice against the Confederacy transformed in this period to become a more general dislike of southerners.40

So when controversy erupted over the presidential election of 1876, and the Republican Party compromised on reconstruction in order to win the White House for Rutherford B. Hayes, Nast refused to conform. In opposition not only to his audience but also to his editor, Nast insisted that it was wrong to abandon the freedmen to the power of the white South. Ending reconstruction wasted the sacrifices of the war. Worse, it betrayed a cynical approach to national values, Nast argued.

Nast’s response to the end of reconstruction is interesting in the context of public influence, because he did not intend to differ from his audience. Indeed, he believed that most Republicans agreed with him. Nast faced powerful opposition not from his audience but from within his workplace. Harper’s political editor George William Curtis pressured Nast to accept the Compromise of 1877. Curtis argued that the paper ought to support the compromise and the new Republican president. To defend reconstruction further was to tilt at windmills. The paper needed a unified political position, and Curtis insisted that position support the Compromise. Nast’s reply – ‘Nay, Patience, or we Break the Sinews’ – portrayed a cartoonist restrained by the over-optimistic symbol of national government. His caption suggested an un-subtle threat of violence.41

Nast waged a fierce behind-the-scenes battle for the right to oppose the end of reconstruction because he thought it was he who spoke for the people. In his reply to Curtis, Nast stressed his special connection to the public and his ability to provide cartoons that appealed to Harper’s Weekly readers. He could point to newspaper commentary that lauded him for ‘[hitting] the nail on the head every time he strikes’, while Curtis ‘strikes wildly, hurting nobody, not even the enemy’.42 Increasingly isolated from the public by his wealth and fame, Nast failed to perceive the change in northern attitudes toward reconstruction. He learned, to his professional cost, how wrong he was. With the Harper family behind him, Curtis silenced Nast. Waiting for his audience to rush to his aid, Nast found only disappointment. His work failed to reflect the public mood, so his conflict with Curtis resulted in a defeat while earning no gratitude from the readership.43

As if determining the boundaries between artist and public were not complex enough, this conflict reveals another player. Cartoonists work for newspapers, which cater to the public. This much is obvious. But the reading public constitutes an external influence. Internally, the cartoonist works within a world of editorial writers, editors, publishers, and owners. Thomas Nast, for example, worked within a corporate structure which required his cooperation not only with the publisher of Harper’s Weekly but also with the political editor, Curtis.44

The influence Curtis and the Harpers represented could often be more pressing than that exerted by the audience. Nast’s public was amorphous, geographically and ideologically diffuse, and sometimes self-contradictory. He might receive both congratulatory and damning responses to any given cartoon. As we have seen, his tendency to slip from one position to another reflected the many constituencies of the Harper’s readers. If circumstances changed, Nast changed his mind. This meant that Nast’s popularity fluctuated with his political positions. At times, he could do no wrong. Other cartoons attracted little applause. Nast considered this state of affairs entirely normal. Curtis, on the other hand, insisted on a more focused approach.

Publisher Fletcher Harper operated his weekly paper both as a business and as a political organ. It expressed his support for Republican politics, but Harper never lost sight of the question of profitability. Thus, so long as Nast retained the adulation of the readership, Harper exercised his influence on Nast’s behalf and rarely intervened to alter Nast’s work. Nast contributed to the financial success of the paper, and that was enough. Curtis saw Harper’s Weekly in a far larger context. The paper offered the rare opportunity to educate, inform, and in some cases control the public. This opportunity, so valuable if employed in the service of good policy – women’s suffrage, for example – must not be squandered by dividing the paper’s authority. Cartoons and editorials should sing the same tune, Curtis insisted. Great men of the party should never be mocked, as Nast routinely did. More, Curtis argued that his position as political editor allowed supervision of the cartoons. Nast’s celebrity, and his audience, should not allow him to hurt the paper as a whole, nor the Republican cause. Nast disagreed.

Here, the competing powers of editor and public converged. Nast’s reply to Curtis relied entirely on the strength of the audience. The readers demanded that Nast express his own perspective.45 They rewarded Nast’s ability to puncture false dignity. As Nast saw it, the public insisted that Nast abandon respect in favour of honesty, and Nast could not refuse. Thus, he called upon the public’s influence on his political positions to refute an attempt to control his work by his editor and to assert his independence from influence. Clearly, Nast worked within a tangled web of competing pressures. Should he satisfy his boss, his editor, his public, or himself? With each issue, these questions arose anew.

Thomas Nast left behind few written records. He died so poor that his widow auctioned his belongings, including many letters. As a result, his cartoons form the most substantial basis for any examination of Nast’s ideas. Clearly, the cartoons suggest a complex relationship between cartoonist and audience, cartoonist and editor. While very little remains from Nast’s life to explain how he felt about the audience, there is one piece of evidence, however, that hints at the way he defended his editorial independence.

After the success of the Tweed campaign, Nast agreed to join the Redpath Lyceum Bureau. James Redpath represented public speakers, and he hoped to present Nast as an unusually appealing act, the ‘Prince of Caricaturists’ and ‘Destroyer of Tammany Hall’.46 The program contained three parts. First, Nast gave a short speech, describing caricature and political cartooning. Next, he drew a few representative cartoons on a blackboard in chalk. Finally, he took requests from the audience, providing cartoons on the spot in response to their ideas. Audiences loved the ‘chalk talks’, and flocked to watch Nast perform.

Nast hated it. Most obviously, he hated the anxiety that public speaking produced. Nast feared taking the stage so much that on his first night he required Redpath to sit on the stage with him. In the grip of his nerves, Nast ‘dug his nails into the reading desk’.47 He wrote to his wife ‘the suffering I go through I can’t not [sic] express in writing’. Lecturing was a ‘horrible dream’, which he tolerated only to collect the ‘blood money’.48 Over time, speaking to audiences became easier. Nast earned a huge amount of money, which helped to blunt the pain. But at the heart of lecturing lay a philosophical problem.

To respond to audience requests implied that Nast merely drew other people’s ideas. When he stood at the chalk board and tossed out caricatures on demand, Nast acknowledged the possibility that his talent relied on the intellect and insight of other men. This was intolerable. Indeed, Nast treasured the reputation he earned during the Tweed fight. He was courageous, wicked, and unflinching. Lyceum lectures invalidated that reputation by demystifying the creative process. The complex dance between reader and cartoonist disappeared in this venue. In its place arose the cartoonist as a reflection of the audience. It comes as no surprise that Nast, while enjoying the income lecturing produced, despised the experience.

So what is the historian to make of Nast and his cartoons? It is a commonplace of classroom instruction to provide students with a cartoon demonstrating some point about the nineteenth century: ‘Nineteenth-century Americans held deep racial prejudices, even in the North – see ‘The Ignorant Vote – Honors are Easy’; ‘American anti-Catholicism acted upon urban and national politics – see “the American River Ganges”’. The problem arises when we examine the popular culture of the nineteenth century and find that it can contradict us at every turn. In cartooning, especially, it is possible to find competing views in the drawings of a single artist commenting on a single issue. In order, then, to continue to use these valuable pedagogical and scholarly sources, it is necessary to determine what political stance they represent. Or, perhaps more salient in this case, whose political stance they represent.

But answering that question requires an answer to the question with which this essay began. How should historians understand the relationship between political cartoonists and the public? If a political cartoonist is an independent thinker, then his work must be used to represent a single viewpoint – popular but not necessarily representative. If, on the other hand, cartoonists primarily reflect the ideas of the public which they serve, then cartoons themselves can stand in for the voice of the people. Better even that that, they can show changes in public opinion over time.

Nast, because he produced so many cartoons and because his career spanned such an eventful period in American history, offers a rich opportunity to answer this question. Nast knew the power of his audience. He also believed, though, in his own political acumen. An examination of his work, as this short essay reveals, provides no definitive answer to the question of where he ended and the public began.

Indeed, the conflict between Nast and Curtis suggests a far more complex view of cartoons as history. Far from a willing representative of the people, Nast asserted his own authority against his editor. He leveraged, in that fight, the power of his publisher. That man, in turn, relied on the economic incentive inherent in the readership – the public – to decide to support Nast. So Nast used the public’s economic power as a catalyst to win the war over content in his cartoons.

Nast’s political acumen only adds to the complexity of the answer. Not only did he insist on political independence, he asserted a variety of positions. Some contradicted others. At times, he altered his position to woo a particular group. Other times, he cared little whom he offended. The cartoons expressed the sophistication of his views, as well as his eternal conversation with other Americans.

Thus, one answer to the question lies in the character of the cartoonist, and the specifics of his world. We cannot understand why Nast created as he did unless we understand exactly what he believed. That is not enough, however. Ideally, the work and opinions of multiple cartoonists compared against one another would provide a general answer to the question of influence. Such an examination is nearly impossible, however. Thomas Nast emigrated to the United States from Bavaria as a child. He never felt completely comfortable writing in English, and his letters are brief and stilted. The circumstances of his death scattered many of his written records. Other cartoonists of his time present similar problems. Some were immigrants like Nast (Joseph Keppler, for example, and Matt Morgan).49 Others left behind very little documentary evidence of their personal views. Few produced a body of work to rival Nast.

The result is a contradiction. On the one hand, the quantity of cartoon work promises fruitful inquiry. On the other hand, the material available to nail down the precise origins of ideas, perspectives, and results disappoints the researcher and presents a methodological challenge. Rather than seeking a simple answer to the question of reflection, or an answer grounded in the concrete foundation of facts and numbers, the historian is better served to revise the question altogether.

Where does this leave us? The most fruitful methodology may be biographical. If we intend to employ cartoons as historical evidence we must know enough about the cartoonist to interpret his work within the context of his life and ideas. The Earl of Derby, describing the parliamentary system, commented that the role of the Opposition is to ‘oppose everything, propose nothing’. Some observers interpret political cartoonists’ work similarly. Even cartoonists can become discouraged. The twentieth-century Indian artist R. K. Laxman complained that his work felt like ‘[lashing] at granite with a feather’. In twenty-five years of political action, he worried nothing had changed.50 Nast had no such fears. He knew his work affected American politics, and his contemporaries never doubted it. In the course of his long career, Nast both opposed and proposed. He offered Americans an insightful, unpredictable, even mercurial perspective on politics and culture.

Political cartoonists like Nast are both thinkers and interpreters. They read the public and the spirit of the age, and then they apply an incisive and often irreverent intellect to the questions they confront. They are, in this, not unlike philosophers or politicians. And like those thinkers, political cartoonists should command a more sophisticated interpretive framework.


1    The titles of Nast cartoons are rendered in their original, American spelling, throughout this chapter.

2    Albert Bigelow Paine, 1904, Thomas Nast: His Period and His Pictures, New York: Harper and Brothers: 5–29. Paine’s is the only existing biography of Nast. Nast turned fifteen in September, 1855, and probably talked his way into the Leslie’s job in early 1856, since Leslie’s first issue came out in December, 1855. Thomas Nast lost nearly all of his money in a series of failed investments between 1884 and 1894. As a result, he left so little on his death that his family auctioned his belongings. Archival collections of his materials are, therefore, both rare and fairly small. The best materials are in the collections of the Morristown Free Public Library, Morristown, New Jersey, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library in Fremont, Ohio, and the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. Scrapbooks at Brown University and the New York Public Library and small folders at Harvard’s Houghton Library, Princeton University Library, and the Library of Congress also aid researchers. The best – most complete – surviving record of Nast’s life are the cartoons published in Harper’s Weekly between 1861 and 1887.

3    The definitive biography of Frank Leslie and his newspaper is Budd Leslie Gambee, 1964, Frank Leslie and His Illustrated Newspaper, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, Department of Library Science.

4    Thomas Nast, ‘Death Before Dishonor’, Harper’s Weekly, 21 June 1884.

5    Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1867, Lays of Ancient Rome, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, London: 165–170.

6    Lawrence Levine, 1992, Highbrow, Lowbrow: the Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: 11–82.

7    Titus Andronicus asks ‘Was it well done of rash Virginius, To slay his daughter with his own right hand, Because she was enforced, stain’d, and deflower’d?’ See: Titus Andronicus, Act V, scene III. Regarding Shakespeare in American culture and the Astor Place Riots, see: Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow.

8    Political scientists trace the same tendencies in modern cartoons. See, for example, the use of allusion discussed in Joan L. Connors, 2007, ‘Popular Culture in Political Cartoons: Analyzing Cartoonist Approaches’, in Political Science and Politics, XL (2): 261–265.

9    For example, Thomas Nast, ‘A Gentle Hint to Office Seekers’, Harper’s Weekly, 10 January 1885; and Thomas Nast, ‘Beware! For He Is Very Hungry and Very Thirsty, Harper’s Weekly, 29 November 1884. See also the series related to Blaine and the bloody shirt: Thomas Nast, ‘The Clean Shirt – A Bad Fit’ Harper’s Weekly, 18 October 1884; Thomas Nast, ‘The Last Week of the Celebrated Breakdown’, Harper’s Weekly, 1 November 1884. Numerous similar examples fill the pages of Harper’s Weekly.

10  Thomas Nast, ‘The Next In Order – Any Thing! Oh, Any Thing!’, Harper’s Weekly, 14 September 1872, and Nast, ‘The Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’.

11  Thurlow Weed, ‘What I Know About Horace Greeley’, letter written 1870, published 1872. Thurlow Weed papers, University of Rochester.

12  See, for example: ‘Lincoln’, Harper’s Weekly, 29 April 1865; ‘The Hero of Our Age ------ Dead!’ Harper’s Weekly, 1 August 1885.

13  Colfax’s letter appears in Paine, Thomas Nast: 203. Reviews of Nast’s lecture include: ‘Thomas Nast’s Lecture’, New York Times, 19 November & 18 October 1873; & the Bates Student, December 1873: 264.

14  The definitive work on illustrated newspapers and magazines remains: Frank Luther Mott, 1938, A History of American Magazines, Volume II: 1850–1865, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

15  Harper’s Weekly circulation numbers ranged from 100,000 copies at the beginning of the Civil War to around 150,000 at peak times during and after the war. Exceptions include the two weeks after the Great Chicago Fire (8–10 October 1871), when Harper’s recorded increased circulation numbers. For 28 October the total was 175,000, while the next week sold 275,000 copies. The week after that was a viciously contested election, so the 11 November issue sold 200,000. These numbers appear on the first inside page of many editions of Harper’s Weekly, including the dates listed above. Mott also details the circulation numbers for various newspapers and magazines (see above, note 14).

16  Thomas Nast, ‘Patience on a Monument’, Harper’s Weekly, 10 October 1868. Other examples include Thomas Nast, ‘The Modern Samson’, Harper’s Weekly, 3 October 1868; Thomas Nast, ‘Worse than Slavery’, Harper’s Weekly, 24 October 1874; Thomas Nast, ‘One Vote Less’, Harper’s Weekly, 8 August 1868.

17  Regarding the racist commonplaces of minstrelsy, see: Eric Lott, 1995, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class, New York: Oxford University Press; Robert C. Toll, 1977, Blacking Up: The Minstrel Show in Nineteenth-Century America, New York: Oxford University Press; and William J. Mahar, 1998, Behind the Burnt Cork Mask: Minstrelsy and Antebellum American Political Culture, Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press. David Roediger and Alexander Saxton have also commented on minstrelsy in light of the construction of whiteness and its interaction with blackness.

18  Nast’s view reflected a widespread opinion among Republicans. See Anthony Gronowicz, 1998, Race and Class Politics in New York City before the Civil War, Boston: Northeastern University Press: 152–153. Regarding anti-Irish cartoon stereotypes, see L. Perry Curtis, Jr., 1997, Apes and Angels: The Irishman in Victorian Caricature, Revised edition, Washington D.C: Smithsonian Institution Press.

19  The complexity of the American reaction to the racial consequences of the Civil War is dealt with in startling clarity by Kirk Savage, 1997, Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America, Princton, NJ: Princeton University Press. See also: Heather Cox Richardson, 2001, The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Civil War North, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

20  Thomas Nast, ‘One of the First – Fruits of the Victory’, Harper’s Weekly, 22 November 1884; and Thomas Nast, ‘On Earth, Peace, Good-Will Toward Men’, Harper’s Weekly, 27 December 1884. On the end of Reconstruction, see: Keith Ian Polakoff, 1973, The Politics of Inertia; the Election of 1876 and the End of Reconstruction, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge; Richardson, The Death of Reconstruction; and James M. McPherson, 1995, The Abolitionist Legacy: From Reconstruction to the NAACP, Second edition, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

21  For example, Thomas Nast, ‘“Halt!”‘, Harper’s Weekly, 17 October 1874.

22  For example, Thomas Nast, ‘Emancipation’, Harper’s Weekly, 24 January 1863; and Thomas Nast, ‘Pardon and Franchise’, Harper’s Weekly, 5 August 1865.

23  Thomas Nast, ‘Colored Rule in a Reconstructed State’, Harper’s Weekly, 14 March 1874, cover.

24  Thomas Nast, ‘The Ignorant Vote, Honors Are Easy’, Harper’s Weekly, 9 December 1876.

25  Thomas Nast, ‘Is This a Republican Form of Government?’ Harper’s Weekly, 2 September 1876; Nast, ‘Worse Than Slavery’. The Redemption process is best covered in the standard works on Reconstruction, including: Eric Foner, 2002, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, New York: Perennial Classics. On Redemption, recent works have tended toward the popular. Some examples include Nicholas Lemann, 2006, Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War, New York: Farar, Straus and Giroux; Kwando Mbiassi Kinshasa, 2006, Black Resistance to the Ku Klux Klan in the Wake of the Civil War, Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.; & Michael Fitzgerald, 2007, Splendid Failure: Post-War Reconstruction in the American South, New York: Ivan R. Dee.

26  Joyce W. Warren, 1992, Fanny Fern: An Independent Woman, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press: 167.

27  For a detailed examination of the downfall of ‘Boss’ Tweed, see: Kenneth Ackerman, 2006, Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York, New York: Carroll and Graf: particularly: 153–362. Also, regarding Nast’s attack on Tweed: Roger Fischer. 1996, Them Damned Pictures: Explorations in American Cartoon Art, North Haven, CT: Archon Books: passim.

28  Thomas Nast, ‘The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things’, Harper’s Weekly, 2 September 1871; Thomas Nast, ‘This is a White Man’s Government’, Harper’s Weekly, 5 September 1868.

29  Nast, ‘The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things’; Nast, ‘This is a White Man’s Government’. Numerous other examples provide similar images. As late as July 1871, Nast devoted an entire double page of Harper’s Weekly to the Orange Day Riot, emphasizing Irish lawlessness. On American views of the Irish, see: Steven P. Erie, 1988, Rainbow’s End: Irish-Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban Machine Politics, Berkeley: University of California Press, Berkeley; Dale T. Knobel, 1986, Paddy and the Republic: Ethnicity and Nationality in Antebellum America, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press; Noel Ignatiev, 1995, How the Irish Became White, New York: Routledge.

30  Thomas Nast, ‘The Rich Growing Richer, the Poor Growing Poorer’, Harper’s Weekly, 2 September 1871. Other examples include: Thomas Nast, ‘Tweedledee and Sweedledum’, Harper’s Weekly, 14 January 1871; Thomas Nast, ‘Wholesale and Retail’, Harper’s Weekly, 16 September 1871; Thomas Nast, ‘Empty and Full’, Harper’s Weekly, 14 October 1871.

31  Nast’s sketches for Harper’s Weekly, and his reporting on the riots appear in Harper’s Weekly, 1 August, 1863, p. 494. See also Paine, p. 92–93. Regarding the Draft Riots, see Iver Bernstein. 1990. The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press.

32  Thomas Nast, ‘Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg’, Harper’s Weekly, 18 November 1871: cover.

33  Wendy Wick Reaves, 1987, ‘Thomas Nast and the President’, The American Art Journal: XIX (1): 61–71. On Grant, see: Brooks D. Simpson, 1998, The Reconstruction Presidents, Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas; and Brooks D. Simpson, 1997, ‘Let Us Have Peace’: U.S. Grant and the Politics of War and Reconstruction, 1861–1868. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

34  Examples include, Nast, ‘Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards Men’; Thomas Nast, ‘The Pope’s Big Toe’, Harper’s Weekly, 30 October 1875; Thomas Nast, ‘Functus Officio’, Harper’s Weekly, 17 March 1877.

35  On Greeley, see: Robert C. Williams, 2006, Horace Greeley: Champion of American Freedom, New York: New York University Press: 279–307.

36  Andrew Slap, 2006, The Doom of Reconstruction: The Liberal Republicans in the Civil War Era, New York: Fordham University Press. Improbably, this allied Nast with women’s suffrage activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who said: ‘I had rather see Beelzebub President than Greeley’ (Williams, Horace Greeley: 301–306).

37  Mark Summers, 2000, Rum, Romanism and Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

38  Harper’s defended itself in editorials as well as cartoons. See, for example: ‘A Disastrous Argument’, Harper’s Weekly, 9 August 9 1884: 512.

39  Examples of Nast’s attacks on Blaine abound in the pages of Harper’s Weekly from 1884. After Cleveland won the presidency, Nast celebrated with: Thomas Nast, ‘What It Means’, Harper’s Weekly, 15 November 1884; and ‘One of the First Fruits of the Victory’, 22 November 1884.

40  Polakoff, 1973, The Politics of Inertia. Northern commitment to cultural equality was, of course, quite limited. Nevertheless, many northerners sought a reformed South that would, at the very least, acknowledge the value of black citizens and avoid open repression and the re-imposition of the social structures of slavery.

41  Thomas Nast, ‘Nay, Patience, or we Break the Sinews’, Harper’s Weekly, 6 May 1877: cover. On the conflict over the end of Reconstruction, see: Paine, Thomas Nast: 354–356; and Joseph Henry Harper, 1912, The House of Harper, New York: Harper and Brothers: 302–304.

42  The quotation originates in the Chicago Inter-Ocean and the New York Post, as quoted in: Paine, Thomas Nast: 321.

43  Paine, Thomas Nast: 355.

44  Until 1877, Fletcher Harper operated Harper’s Weekly as the publisher. Harper and Brothers publishing house owned the paper. After Harper’s death, his son and nephew became the publishers. It was one of these young men, John Henry Harper, who took over the argument between Nast and Curtis. See: Harper, The House of Harper; and Eugene Exman, 1967, The House of Harper, New York: Harper and Brothers. On Curtis, see: Robert Charles Kennedy, 1993, ‘Crisis and Progress: The Rhetoric and Ideals of a Nineteenth-Century Reformer, George William Curtis (1824–1892)’, unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

45  Paine, Thomas Nast: 354. A series of letters among Nast, Curtis, and various members of the Harper family track this argument between the early 1870s and 1887. See: Harper, The House of Harper: 302–304, 493–496. See also: Thomas Nast to Sallie Edwards Nast, 6 February 1872, Huntington Manuscript 27761. Rival newspapers also noticed Nast’s silence: The Nation, 16 November 1876; the Semi-Weekly Observer, 20 August 1878; The Daily Graphic, 6 August 1877. References to the Sun and World also appear in Paine, Thomas Nast: 361. Rumours about the artist included one in which he had poisoned himself with a chemical agent while working and was unable to continue drawing.

46  Alice Caulkins, 1996, ‘Thomas Nast, a Chronology’, in The Journal of the Thomas Nast Society, 10 (1): 122.

47  J.B. Pond, 1900, Eccentricities of Genius: Memories of Famous Men and Women of the Platform and Stage, New York: G.W. Dillingham Co.: 189. See also: Paine, Thomas Nast: 274–276.

48  Thomas Nast to Sallie Edwards Nast, 8 October 1873, Huntington Library Manuscript 27766.

49  Historians have yet to examine Matthew Morgan’s work in detail, though his British work has received some small attention: T. M. Kemnitz, 1975, ‘Matt Morgan of “Tomahawk” and English Cartooning, 1867–1870’, Victorian Studies, 19 (1): 5–34; Richard Scully, 2008, ‘The Other Kaiser: Images of Wilhelm I and the Wars of German Unification in British Political Cartoons’, unpublished paper delivered at School of Historical Studies Seminar Series, Monash University. Joseph Keppler, however, is the subject of: Richard Samuel West, 1988, Satire on Stone: The Political Cartoons of Joseph Keppler, Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

50  Sushmita Chatterjee, 2007, ‘Cartooning Democracy: The Images of R.K. Laxman’, in Political Science and Politics, XL (2): 305.

Primary Sources

Bates Student, various editions.

Daily Graphic, various editions.

Harper’s Weekly, various editions.

Huntington Library Manuscript Collection.

The Nation, various editions.

New York Times, various editions.

Semi-Weekly Observer, various editions.

Thurlow Weed papers, University of Rochester.

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Ackermann, Kenneth, 2006, Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern, New York City, New York: Carroll and Graf.

Bernstein, Iver, 1990. The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press.

Caulkins, Alice, 1996, ‘Thomas Nast, a Chronology’, The Journal of the Thomas Nast Society, 10 (1): 122.

Chatterjee, Sushmita, 2007, ‘Cartooning Democracy: The Images of R. K. Laxman’, Political Science and Politics, XL (2): 305.

Connors, Joan L., 2007, ‘Popular Culture in Political Cartoons: Analyzing Cartoonist Approaches’, Political Science and Politics, XL (2): 261–265.

Erie, Steven P., 1988, Rainbow’s End: Irish-Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban Machine Politics, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Exman, Eugene, 1967, The House of Harper, New York: Harper and Brothers.

Fischer, Roger, 1996, Them Damned Pictures: Explorations in American Cartoon Art, North Haven, CT: Archon Books.

Fitzgerald, Michael, 2007, Splendid Failure: Post-War Reconstruction in the American South, New York: Ivan R. Dee.

Foner, Eric, 2002, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, New York: Perennial Classics.

Gambee, Budd Leslie, 1964, Frank Leslie and His Illustrated Newspaper, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, Department of Library Science.

Gronowicz, Anthony, 1998, Race and Class Politics in New York City Before the Civil War, Boston: Northeastern University Press.

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Kennedy, Robert Charles, 1993, ‘Crisis and Progress: The Rhetoric and Ideals of a Nineteenth Century Reformer, Charles William Curtis (1824–1892)’, unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Kinshasa, Kwando Mbiassi, 2006, Black Resistance to the Ku Klux Klan in the Wake of the Civil War, Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.

Knobel, Dale T., 1986, Paddy and the Republic: Ethnicity and Nationality in Antebellum America, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

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Lott, Eric, 1995, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class, New York: Oxford University Press.

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Richardson, Heather Cox, 2001, The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Civil War North, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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Cite this chapter as: Halloran, Fiona Deans. 2009. ‘“Oppose everything, propose nothing”: Influence and power in the political cartoons of Thomas Nast’. Drawing the Line: Using Cartoons as Historical Evidence, edited by Scully, Richard; Quartly, Marian. Melbourne: Monash University ePress. pp. 3.1 to 3.22.

© Copyright 2009 Fiona Deans Halloran

All rights reserved. Apart from any uses permitted by Australia’s Copyright Act 1968, no part of this book may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission of the copyright owners. The fact that this book is published online does not mean that any part of it can be reproduced without first obtaining written permission: copyright laws do still apply. Inquiries should be directed to the publisher, Monash University ePress:

Drawing the Line

   by Richard Scully, Marian Quartly