Illustrating the late 1800s from Honest Abe to Corrupt Boss Tweed

Thomas Nast (1840-1902)

Nast was born on September 27, 1840 in Germany, but immigrated to New York City in 1846. He was a poor student, but began work as an artist for Leslie's illustrated in 1855 and for Harper's Weekly in 1859.

The Beginnings

Abraham Lincoln allegedly called Nast the North's best recruiter1 due to his frank depictions of the Confederate's atrocious war-acts (Pop Up cartoon). Two of Nast's cartoons even served as election posters in the Lincoln's campaign of 1864. After, Nast helped secure the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant in 1868 and again in the 1872 re-election. His art caught viewer's eyes, and people (including Mark Twain) wrote to Nast about his emotionally captivating artwork.
During the Civil War, Nast humanized minorities and blacks; while during his middle years, he focused on bringing down Tammany Hall and corrupt politician William M. Tweed.


Timeline - 1840 to 1868* (Pop Up Link)
* adapted from SonoftheSouth.net



1 Albert Paine, Thomas Nast: His Period and His Pictures. (New York: Pyne Pr, 1974) 69.
2 ibid. 263.