Born in Landau, Germany, on
September 27th, 1840, this artist moved to New York City at age six
with his sister and mother. Nast was a poor student and preferred drawing over
schoolwork.  He dropped out of school
around the age of 13. For a couple of years, Nast went to the National Academy
of Art until his parents couldn’t pay his tuition, then got a job at Leslie’s
Illustrated Newspaper in 1885. He was sent to England, then to Sicily. When he
came back to America in 1861, he married Sarah Edwards. They had five children, Julia,
Thomas Jr., Edith, Mabel, and Cyril. He worked at Leslie’s until he got a job
at Harper’s Weekly in 1862. He spent about 25 years at Harper’s total.

 Nast earned a good reputation because of his
Civil War drawings early in the time he worked for Harper’s. When Nast drew
pictures of the South, he drew the people to look like barbarians. Thomas Nast
once drew an illustration of “Quantrill’s Raid on a Western Town”, which portrayed
the Southern people invading a town and destroying it. Another drawing called
“Southern Chivalry” shows Southern soldier’s crimes of war, such as
decapitation, robbery, and murder. According to, Abraham
Lincoln called Nast his “best recruiting officer” because his drawings were so
inspiring to other men and encouraged them to join the fight.

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 When it was time to vote for a president
again, the odds weren’t in favor for Lincoln. The Democrats ran General George
McClellan against Lincoln. The Democrats wanted to preserve the Union and make
a compromise with the South. They were willing to let the issue with slavery
drop and let the South keep their slaves if they came back to the Union. But
Thomas Nast couldn’t let this happen. That’s when he drew “Compromise with the
South” (This was McClellan’s slogan). The drawing shows what the slogan
truly meant. A defeated Union soldier shakes hands with the triumphant rebel,
who’s foot is on a Union soldier’s tombstone, which says “In Memory of Union
Heroes Who Died in a Useless War”. Lady Liberty is kneeling on the floor
next to the grave, crying. Two months after Nast drew this, Lincoln won the
election. He was elected for a second term as president.

It was finally beginning to look
like the North could win this war. That’s when Thomas Nast drew “On to
Richmond”. It showed the Union soldiers marching to Richmond, and their fallen
comrades urging them on. The image gave the feeling that the war would soon
end, and that victory was possible.

Nast made many drawings about the
slaves, showing them as people instead of property. One was called
“Emancipation”. He wanted to change how people saw slaves, as people instead of
property. The center of his drawing shows a “colored” family living like the
whites did in the 1800s, in a nice home with nice clothes. The surrounding scene
shows slaves being beaten, hunted down, and sold at slave auctions. 

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