The Old Print Shop


  • ARTIST: Thomas Nast

  • PUBLISHER: Published by Harper's Weekly. August 15, 1868.

  • MEDIUM: Wood engraving,

    DATE: 1868.

  • EDITION SIZE: Image size 10 3/4 x 9 3/16" (27.4 x 23.4 cm).

  • DESCRIPTION: The Reconstruction era (1865-1877) occurred directly after the Civil War. It ousted confederate Democrats and replaced them with Republicans who would uphold the rights and liberties of the black community. It also saw the creation of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendment - outlawing slavery, granting citizenship to all freed slaves born in America, and allowing blacks to vote. <br><br> In this political cartoon Columbia, the personification of America, is seen pulling the country together. The rod currently in her hands is "South Carolina." She is forcing it into a bundle with twelve others, which are being held together by a ribbon labeled "Union : Fasces: E Pluribus Unum." The latter part of the inscription means 'out of many, one.' Fasces refers the ancient Roman symbol of authority, and resemble the very structure Columbia is building. The fact that there are thirteen rods (if the ax is included), would suggest Nast is symbolizing the country's origins - when thirteen states banded together to defeat the British and form the nation. In this sense, Nast could be saying that, like their forebears, the Union would unite the nation again. To the right are the rods of Virginia, Texas and Mississippi, waiting their turn. Fasces would later be used for symbolic reason when the Lincoln memorial was constructed in Washington D.C. <br><br> Above Columbia is a sign reading "Equal rights 'with malice towards non and charity to all.' - A. Lincoln." On left is the blade of "Liberty." A scroll sits below it, reading "Let us have peace - S. Grant. U.S.A." The presidential elections would occur in just a few months and Ulysses S. Grant was the Republican nominee. On the right is the blade of "Justice." Half of a scale can be seen next to it, another symbol of justice.


  • CONDITION: Good condition, small spot within image.