Friday, February 29, 2008
Today we feature a portrait from the 1860's of Thomas Nast. Most people today have never heard of Thomas Nast, but he was responsible for creating many of the icons that endure today. He was an illustrator, and he created our modern picture of Santa Claus as a chubby, jolly figure in a red suit. He also created the image of Uncle Sam as a tall, bearded figure in a flag suit.
In addition to these icons of American History, Thomas Nast help steer important political events. At the low point of the Civil War, when it looked likely that Lincoln would lose, and the Democrats were campaigning on a platform of "Compromise with the South", Nast created a series of poignant illustrations for Harper's Weekly that helped the public see the importance of seeing the war to a successful close. Many felt that Nast played a pivotal role in getting Lincoln reelected. Nast also played an important role in getting US Grant elected president, and he help dismantle the Boss Tweed organization in New York. For Thomas Nast, the pen was truly mightier than the sword.