Thomas Nast: The Father of Modern Political Cartoons by Fiona Deans Halloran
By Fiona Deans Halloran
Thomas Nast (1840–1902), the founder of American political cartooning, might be most sensible identified for his cartoons portraying political events because the Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant. Nast’s legacy additionally incorporates a trove of different political cartoons, his profitable assault at the computing device politics of Tammany corridor in 1871, and his wildly renowned illustrations of Santa Claus for Harper’s Weekly journal. all through his occupation, his drawings supplied a pointed critique that compelled readers to confront the contradictions round them.
In this thoroughgoing and vigorous biography, Fiona Deans Halloran focuses not only on Nast’s political cartoons for Harper’s but additionally on his position in the complexities of Gilded Age politics and highlights the numerous contradictions in his personal lifestyles: he used to be an immigrant who attacked immigrant groups, a supporter of civil rights who portrayed black males as silly teenagers short of information, and an enemy of corruption and hypocrisy who idolized Ulysses S. furnish. He was once a guy with strong buddies, together with Mark Twain, and strong enemies, together with William M. “Boss” Tweed. Halloran translates Nast’s paintings, explores his motivations and beliefs, and illuminates Nast’s lasting legacy on American political tradition.
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Additional info for Thomas Nast: The Father of Modern Political Cartoons
Whether regarding newspapers, magazines, books, or prints, New York was the capital of American literary culture. Not only did the state publish one-third of the periodicals delivered in America, but the city of New York held a powerful sway over the imaginations of writers and illustrators. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News, Harper’s Weekly, and other illustrated magazines reached out to a national audience, both in terms of the issues they addressed and the circulation they enjoyed. Both emphasized the culture of New York visually and in text, and they served as a source of news, gossip, and pleasure for Americans interested in periodical literature.
The world from which Nast came was one of great vibrancy, both in positive and negative terms. Positively, it contained a variety of nationalities and personalities, many exciting and exotic for a small boy. It offered him a microcosm of American life within a few blocks. Young Nast could hardly have avoided the poverty, crime, and simple dirt for which New York was famous. New York’s city life, then, was all around Five Points to Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News 17 Nast in his formative years. It taught him how to draw by providing raw material on every corner.
His political education included a variety of interactions with the Irish in America. The Irish, then comprising about 60 percent of the local population, dominated ward politics from the nomination process to voting to policy making. Factions of Irish Democrats formed rival clubs. Supported by gangs of young thugs, they prowled the streets and inhabited the pubs. Many were local celebrities. Connections among Irish immigrants, often related to county of origin, time of arrival in the United States, and business relations once in New York, formed a network that underlay every political question, especially in the Fourth Ward.