Thomas Nast Essay

2026 WordsJun 3, 20159 Pages
Throughout the mid to late 1800’s, Thomas Nast, known as the father of political cartoons, captivated his viewers in a magnitude the nation had not seen before. Nast’s comedic and satirical cartoons sought to ameliorate and sway the nation in line with his own personal beliefs. The zenith of his fame and influence was during the dawning days of the Civil War (1864-1865) throughout the Reconstruction Era (1865-1877). In 1862, Thomas Nast joined Harper's Weekly as an artist. Before long, he earned national fame for his drawings of Civil War battles. President Lincoln described him as the "best recruiting sergeant" for the Union because his sketches encouraged others to join the fight. Thomas Nast was a staunch opponent of slavery and a staunch Radical Reconstructionist. Post Civil War, Nast remained a strong supporter of black civil rights and an anti-Democrat. Throughout his time, Nast’s cartoons played a vital role in every presidential campaign between 1864 and 1884. He used his authority to sway numerous election outcomes in line with his interests including the reelection of Lincoln and both elections of Grant. This allowed for Nast to directly metamorphoze the Gilded Age into any vision he fancied it to be, always in favor of the Northern Republicans. Throughout his time, Thomas Nast’s cartoons did and did not accurately reflect Northern public opinion. The year was 1864, the darkest days for the Union and for President Lincoln's chances of re-election. The Civil War showed no signs of slowing down or of a Union victory. With Union military prospects appearing dim, the Democrats met in the Chicago Convention in late August 1864. The Union’s struggles led to the increase in power and influence of the Peace Democrats, known as Copperheads. The Copperheads sought a cease-fire and negotiated settlement with the Confederacy. These Democrats criticized President

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