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Born in Germany and educated in New York, Thomas Nast helped invent and define political cartooning in America. Through his work for Harper's Weekly, a magazine with a circulation of over 100,000 readers, Nast introduced a number of symbols that have remained commonplace in political allegory, including the elephant for the Republican Party and the donkey for the Democratic Party. He is perhaps best remembered for his skewering attacks on the corruption of Tammany Hall in New York under the leadership of Boss Tweed.

But Nast was also a dedicated Republican and a devout exponent of radical Reconstruction policies after the war. His cartoons called for the granting of civil rights to the freedmen, relentlessly attacked the pro-Southern policies of Andrew Johnson, and offered repeated reminders of what he believed the war had been fought for. He became especially riled by the violent and manipulative efforts of opponents of Reconstruction to deny free blacks their rightful place in a newly reconstructed nation.

The name of the cartoon used in this "Image as History" is a quotation from the 1868 Democratic Party platform, speaking to the organized resistance against Republican Reconstruction.


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