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What are the references employed by the cartoonist Thomas Nast in his cartoon "This is a White Man's Government?"

Image of three white men standing on a black man who is lying on the ground.  Image has six sections that are discussed in the text below. Black schools and asylums set aflame and lynched bodies hanging from lamp posts demonstrate the severity of the opposition to Reconstruction. This figure represents a generic Irish Democrat. His hat indicates that he comes from the notorious Five Points district of New York, and he holds aloft a club by which he will make certain to deny black men the right to vote. This is Confederate veteran Nathan Bedford Forrest. He wears the belt buckle of the Confederate States of America and holds a dagger labeled As a Confederate commander in Tennessee, Forrest was responsible for one of the worst atrocities of the war at Fort Pillow, Tennessee on April 12, 1864 when Forrest's men murdered surrendering black soldiers. After the war, Forrest was one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan. This is August Belmont, a New York financier who headed Democratic Party efforts to nominate Horatio Seymour for president in the election of 1868. As Governor of New York during the war, Seymour had denounced emancipation as The ballot box lies on the ground out of reach of the black man; he has been denied his right to vote.

The slogan and quote from the 1868 Democratic Party platform speak to the organized resistance against Republican Reconstruction.

1. Black schools and asylums set aflame and lynched bodies hanging from lamp posts demonstrate the severity of the opposition to Reconstruction.

2. This figure represents a generic Irish Democrat. His hat indicates that he comes from the notorious Five Points district of New York, and he holds aloft a club by which he will make certain to deny black men the right to vote.

3. This is Confederate veteran Nathan Bedford Forrest. He wears the belt buckle of the Confederate States of America and holds a dagger labeled "The Lost Cause," a reference to the Southern belief after the war that the Confederacy had nobly fought for the constitutional right of secession and had not truly been defeated.

4. As a Confederate commander in Tennessee, Forrest was responsible for one of the worst atrocities of the war at Fort Pillow, Tennessee on April 12, 1864 when Forrest's men murdered surrendering black soldiers. After the war, Forrest was one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.

5. This is August Belmont, a New York financier who headed Democratic Party efforts to nominate Horatio Seymour for president in the election of 1868. As Governor of New York during the war, Seymour had denounced emancipation as "barbarous." Belmont represents the interests of northern capital, especially Wall Street, who seek to turn away from the problems of Reconstruction and focus instead on commercial and industrial development.

6. The ballot box lies on the ground out of reach of the black man; he has been denied his right to vote.


Something More

Title: This is a White Man's Government
Artist: Thomas Nast
Date: 1868
Credit: Images Courtesy of HarpWeek, LLC


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