Thomas Nast: Radical Reconstructionist


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American Studies

Thomas Nast, a famous cartoonist in the Post Civil war reconstructionist era, portrayed both the events and issues which were occurring at the time and his views on those issues. Thomas Nast was a radical reconstructionist; he wanted the South to rejoin the Union only with the promise of protecting the rights and liberties of the newly freed African Americans. Nast presented these views in his cartoons. For example in his engraving Emancipation, Nast shows former slaves enjoying the new liberties of their freedom.

The Modern Samson

However, Southern Democrats did not like African Americans voting for the other party, or even former slaves having any rights at all. This became an issue when Republicans granted Southerners “Home rule” and pulled troops out of the South. Southerners then proceeded to do all they could to restrict the freedom of African Americans. Nast illustrates this in his cartoon The Modern Samson. Nast, as a radical reconstructionist, did not like these new events and includes dark objects including a snake as well as a skull and crossbones in the cartoon to illustrate that he does not condone these new events.

The White Man's Government

In This Is a White Man's Government, Nast confirms this by having 3 whites join hands standing on top of a fallen African American. Through his cartoons, Nast not only illustrated the events which happened during the post Civil War period, but also gave his views on the franchising, and then the disenfranchising of African Americans.