The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson

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March 30, 1867, pages 200-201

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Amphitheatrum Johnsonianum - massacre of the innocents at New Orleans, July 30, 1866

See the HarpWeek commentary of this cartoon below:

HarpWeek Commentary:  Amphitheatrum Johnsonian – Massacre of the Innocents at New Orleans – July 30, 1866

This is one of the most important cartoons that Thomas Nast ever drew. He probably was influenced by Jean-Léon Gérôme’s 1859 painting "Ave Caesar"(now in the Yale University Art Gallery).

Andrew Johnson is shown as a Roman emperor impassively observing Mayor John Monroe (on the horse) leading the charge of his police against the black freedmen. Secretary of State William H. Seward leans over him, while Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles leans over the rail. The man in the Roman helmet and armor is General George Armstrong Custer, who accompanied Johnson on his "Swing Round the Circle" and at least once hurled invectives at hecklers. * 1868 Democratic presidential candidate Horatio Seymour is peering between the wall and the post at the top left.

General Ulysses Grant is at the lower left, staying the sword of General Phil Sheridan, Military Commander of New Orleans. Sheridan was away from the city on the day of the riot. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton is over Grant.

Other government figures include Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch (over Sheridan); Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House and Grant’s Vice President from 1868-72 (over McCulloch); Senator James Doolittle of Wisconsin, a strong Johnson supporter (to the right of McCulloch); and Postmaster General Alexander Randall (right of Doolittle). Governor James Orr of South Carolina and General Darius Crouch of Massachusetts (in Orr’s lap) are below Johnson; their arm-in-arm entry into the Johnson-supported National Union Convention in Philadelphia in August 1866 represented North-South reconciliation and "filled the hall with tears of joy."

Nast probably drew this picture in 1866, but saved it for an appropriate time; that turned out to be the March release of the report from the Congressional Investigating Committee. Within a week of its appearance on March 20, 1867, General Sheridan removed Mayor Monroe, Louisiana Attorney General Andrew J. Herron and Judge Edwin Abell from office.

* Thanks to Professor Gregory Urwin of the University of Central Arkansas for Custer’s identification.

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