The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
ĽName: Thomas Nast

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Thomas Nast was born in Landau, Germany and came to America in 1846. His father was a musician who played in theatres, and young Tommy was exposed to Shakespeare and other plays at an early age.

His first illustration for Harper’s Weekly appeared in 1859 and his last one in 1896. Most of his approximate 2200 cartoons for Harper’s Weekly were drawn between 1862 and 1886, an average of almost two per week.

Nast originated many symbols including the Republican elephant and the Tammany tiger. He popularized the Democratic donkey and the current fat and jolly image of Santa Claus.

During the Civil War, Nast’s depictions of Southern guerilla raids and atrocities reportedly led Abraham Lincoln to call him the Union’s best recruiter. Two of his 1864 cartoons were used as major election posters by the Lincoln-Johnson campaign. In fact, Nast’s cartoons played a key role in the re-election of Lincoln in 1864, the election of Ulysses S. Grant in 1868 and his re-election in 1872, and the defeat of Republican James G. Blaine by Grover Cleveland in 1884. However, Nast probably is best known for his powerful series of cartoons that led to the defeat of Boss Tweed and his "Ring" in 1871.

Nast was just coming into his own as a satirical cartoonist when Andrew Johnson became President in April 1865. He disagreed with Johnson almost from the outset, and lampooned him as "King Andy" and as a Roman emperor in work which retains visual impact even today.

After Nast supported Democrat Grover Cleveland in 1884 - as a “Mugwump” or renegade Republican - he lost his popularity among Republicans. He was only 44, but his work was in decline. He stopped cartooning regularly for Harper’s Weekly in 1886, and lost most of his savings in a Wall Street swindle the previous year. He died of yellow fever in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where President Theodore Roosevelt had appointed him consul in 1902.

John Adler, HarpWeek Publisher


Thomas Nast
(27 September 1840 – 7 December 1902)
Source:  Harper's Weekly

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