Born in Landau, Germany, onSeptember 27th, 1840, this artist moved to New York City at age sixwith his sister and mother. Nast was a poor student and preferred drawing overschoolwork.
He dropped out of schoolaround the age of 13. For a couple of years, Nast went to the National Academyof Art until his parents couldn’t pay his tuition, then got a job at Leslie’sIllustrated Newspaper in 1885. He was sent to England, then to Sicily.
When hecame 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 jobat Harper’s Weekly in 1862. He spent about 25 years at Harper’s total. Nast earned a good reputation because of hisCivil War drawings early in the time he worked for Harper’s. When Nast drewpictures of the South, he drew the people to look like barbarians. Thomas Nastonce drew an illustration of “Quantrill’s Raid on a Western Town”, which portrayedthe Southern people invading a town and destroying it.
Another drawing called”Southern Chivalry” shows Southern soldier’s crimes of war, such asdecapitation, robbery, and murder. According to bibliography.com, AbrahamLincoln called Nast his “best recruiting officer” because his drawings were soinspiring to other men and encouraged them to join the fight. When it was time to vote for a presidentagain, the odds weren’t in favor for Lincoln. The Democrats ran General GeorgeMcClellan against Lincoln. The Democrats wanted to preserve the Union and makea compromise with the South. They were willing to let the issue with slaverydrop and let the South keep their slaves if they came back to the Union. ButThomas Nast couldn’t let this happen.
That’s when he drew “Compromise with theSouth” (This was McClellan’s slogan). The drawing shows what the slogantruly 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 UnionHeroes Who Died in a Useless War”. Lady Liberty is kneeling on the floornext to the grave, crying. Two months after Nast drew this, Lincoln won theelection. He was elected for a second term as president. It was finally beginning to looklike the North could win this war.
That’s when Thomas Nast drew “On toRichmond”. It showed the Union soldiers marching to Richmond, and their fallencomrades urging them on. The image gave the feeling that the war would soonend, and that victory was possible.Nast made many drawings about theslaves, showing them as people instead of property.
One was called”Emancipation”. He wanted to change how people saw slaves, as people instead ofproperty. The center of his drawing shows a “colored” family living like thewhites did in the 1800s, in a nice home with nice clothes. The surrounding sceneshows slaves being beaten, hunted down, and sold at slave auctions.