A Nasty Cartoon!

Thomas Nast (1849-1902) is the father of the American political cartoon. He’s also the creator of the Republican elephant and Democratic donkey. A hater of injustice, his cartoons advocated the rights of Native Americans and African-Americans. But there was one group he had no tolerance for: the Catholic Church, which he considered a fomentor of urban political corruption. This 1875 Harper’s Weekly cartoon, “The American River Ganges,” shows Catholic Bishops invading American shores, ready to gobble up little Protestant schoolchildren armed with the King James Bible. Notice that the mitres look a like crocodiles, and if you look at the bishops’profiles, they look like the stereotypical “Pug Irish” that Nast loved to draw elsewhere. In the background the Irish have destroyed the public schools and are taking Lady Liberty off to be hung. The building in the background reads “Political Roman Catholic Church.” For more of Nast’s work (including his 1863 Santa Claus click here.)

About Pat McNamara

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