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Reconstruction: The Second Civil War | Image Gallery

Thomas Nast's Political Cartoons

German-born political cartoonist Thomas Nast gave America some of its most enduring symbols: the Republican elephant, the Democratic donkey, and Uncle Sam. Publishing regularly in Harper's Weekly, the celebrated Nast drew thousands of cartoons during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Like many Northerners, Nast supported President Lincoln, and he made his reputation by championing the Union's cause and the dignity of black people. But Nast's racial attitudes — like those of many other Americans — were not without contradictions. And as Reconstruction-era corruption and violence spun out of control, he drew cartoons that criticized black legislators as strongly as earlier cartoons had championed black suffrage and lamented white supremacist violence.

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