Thomas Nast, Political Cartoonist (Friends Fund Publication)
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If it is true that the pen is mightier than the sword and that one picture is worth a thousand words, Thomas Nast must certainly rank as one of the most influential personalities in nineteenth-century American history. His pen, dipped in satire, aroused an apathetic, disinterested, and uninformed public to indignation and action more than once. The most notable Nast campaign, and probably the one best recorded today, was directed against New York City’s Tammany Hall and its boss, William Marcy Tweed. Boss Tweed and his ring so feared the power of Nast and his drawings that they once offered him a bribe of $500,000.
Six presidents of the United States received and gratefully accepted Nast’s support during their candidacies and administrations. Two of these, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant, credited Nast with more than mere support. During the Civil War, Lincoln called Nast his “best recruiting sergeant,” and after the war Grant, then a general, wrote that Nast had done as “much as any one man to preserve the Union and bring the war to an end.” Throughout his career the cartoonist remained an ardent champion of Grant who, after his election in 1868, attributed his victory to “the sword of Sheridan and the pencil of Thomas Nast.”
Nast’s work is still familiar today. It was Nast who popularized the modern concepts of Santa Claus and Uncle Sam and who created such symbols as the Democratic donkey, the Republican elephant, and the Tammany tiger.
With more than 150 examples of Nast’s work, Thomas Nast: Political Cartoonist recreates the life and pattern of artistic development of the man who made the political cartoon a respected and powerful journalistic form.
single picture rather than a collection of several small drawings crowded on a page as he so frequently did in his early work. More important was his adoption of the portrait-caricature in 1 8 6 5 which soon became the hallmark of all his political cartoons. Finally he turned to line drawing in which he developed a bold and incisive touch per fectly suited to the hand engraving on wood blocks then used. Righteous zeal and instinct for keeping in step with the public mind had always been his. The
$50,000 worth of Harper's books already on hand. New books were then purchased from the New York Printing Company, a corporation belonging to the Tweed Ring. This was a heavy blow, and the directors of Harper s almost collapsed under it. A policy meet ing was called and a long debate ensued. Just when it appeared Tweed would win, flagging deter mination was strengthened and the tide was turned by Fletcher Harper. Disgusted with his colleagues, he got up to leave saying as he went, "Gentlemen,
The nation watched Rockefeller and Carnegie build their vast monopolies and reap their rich harvest for a time with admiration but later with growing bitterness toward the malefactors of great wealth. The next American crusade would be a fight to curb the money power. Nast, conservative by nature and well off financially, never stirred to the bugle call of Populist reformers. Furthermore, while Nast was floundering the changing public temper was matched to perfection by Joseph Keppler who founded
40) ; 16 (Nos. 37, 39, 41, 42, 44, 45, 46) ; 17 (Nos. 40, 51, 59, 56, 46, 56, 60, 42, 43, 44) ; 18 (Nos. 45, 46) ; 19 (No. 47) ; 20 (Nos. 48, 49, 56, 50, 52, 53, 54) ; 21 (Nos. 55, 29, . 57, 58, 60, 59, 61, 146); 22 (Nos. 46, 62, 63, 64, 41, 52, 32, 47) ; 24 (Nos. 65, 66, 24, 67) ; 25 (Nos. 68, 73, 74, 75, 76, 7 8 ) ; 26 (Nos. 79, 81, 82, 8 3 ) ; 27 (Nos. 84-97); 28 (Nos. 98-103); 29 (Nos. 104-112); 32 (Nos. 114-118) ; 33 (Nos. 119, 120, 106, 121, 122, 123, 87); 34 (Nos. 124-131); 35 (Nos. 132,
of Fredericksburg" (No. 13) with its close observations of suffering, wounded, and tense emotions of men waiting to go into bat tle. This chilling commentary on a real as opposed to a glorified battle scene must have cost the Union a few recruits. Despite these effective drawings in 1863 the artist still frequently followed fashion rather than his own insight in undistinguished sketches of prisoners in camp or armies on the battlefield. Typical of these was the two-page spread "Thanks giving