The Old Print Shop

Reducing the U.S. Army Again - Let All Savages Rejoice.

  • ARTIST: Thomas Nast

  • PUBLISHER: Published by Harper's Weekly. October 25, 1879.

  • MEDIUM: Wood engraving,

    DATE: 1879.

  • EDITION SIZE: Image size 11 x 9 1/4" (27.9 x 23.5 cm).

  • DESCRIPTION: The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 went into full affect in 1879. The Act made it illegal for federal forces to be used to enforce civil laws, and came in response to the Compromise of 1877. After the Civil War (1861-1865) the Federal Army was used to enforce laws in the South, mostly to protect freed slaves, but it sparked bitterness in Southerners. In many areas the army patrolled the polls during the 1876 election and barred confederate officers from voting. Though legal at the time, the closeness of the election (Republican nominee Hayes had won by just one electoral vote) made it all the more aggravating for the people of the South, who were largely Democratic. They claimed the army had frightened away other, legal, voters. Congress was forced to take over the ballot count, and investigate claims of fraud. It would be months before a decision was reached and Hayes was deemed the victor. In the mean time, the elements of the Compromise were worked out to ease tension, and upon winning Hayes placed it into effect. The Compromise promised to remove federal forces from the South as long as southern officials promised to uphold the rights and liberties of the black community. <br><br> Rather than commenting on the affects in south the artist, Thomas Nast, reflects on the problems the Act would cause in the west. People already knew about the troubled South. Nast himself had produced countless cartoons regarding violence and racism, but he wanted to remind the public of another part of the country. The federal army had, on many occasions, helped settlers with the Plains Indians. It was the front line for Indian warfare, so to speak. Without the aid of an organized army, Nast says, the "savages" will run wild and murder Americans at will. <br><br> Nast portrays the Native Americans as wild dogs in this cartoon. The nearest one holds a rifle and has a war club tucked into his belt. In front of him are the boots of two dead Americans, and in the distance a military unit on the run.


  • CONDITION: Good condition, save for minor discoloration and two holes in the outer upper margin.