The Old Print Shop

The Two Georges.

  • ARTIST: Thomas Nast

  • PUBLISHER: Published by Harper's Weekly. March 23, 1878.

  • MEDIUM: Wood engraving,

    DATE: 1878.

  • EDITION SIZE: Image size 19 5/8 x 13 1/8" (49.7 x 33.2 cm).

  • DESCRIPTION: George III to George Washington, "I say, George - Daddy - is that the free and enlightened Cherub for whim you fought? Don't you think you have better write another Farewell Address to him?" <br><br> Once enemies, a ghostly King George III pokes fun at George Washington for the current of state of affairs in the United States. It was only a hundred years ago that Washington had led his troops against the British so they could be free of the tax-heavy, overbearing king and his refusal to allow them representation in Parliament. But now Uncle Sam, who is supposed to represent America, has fallen lax and his nonchalant attitude threatens to destroy the country. He is show leaning back in his chair while smoking a cigar. Clamped on his leg is a bear trap labeled "St. Matthews Resolution," a reference to the currency war raging within Congress. <br><br> The Long Depression had kicked off with the Great Panic at the end of 1873. The country was hurting. Silver had been removed from the money standard earlier that year because of inflation - large silver mines had been discovered in the west and the value of silver coins had plummeted as a result. Gold, on the other hand, was more stable. So to protect the country's currency silver was dropped, infuriating mine owners. The outcry would only grow as the depression set in. Many believed inflation would assist suffering businesses. <br><br> In January of 1878 (just a few months before this publication) the St. Matthews Resolution passed in House of Representatives, allowing silver to be used to pay off public debts like government issued bonds. It was followed quickly by the Bland–Allison Act, which requiring the Treasury to re-instituted silver into the money standard. This a horrible decision according to the artist, Thomas Nast. The "Veto" and "Honest Debts" papers sitting in the garbage bin refer to these changes as Congress had to override a presidential veto in institute the Bland–Allison Act. <br><br> Papers above Uncle Sam's head refer to other problems face d in the country - "Labor against capital"; "Reducing the U.S. Army U.S. Navy"; "A Bill - How to get money without working"; "How not to pay the honest public debt - that saved the country during the war"; and "How to wipe out the public debt - with a sponge. Bland." <br><br> Theft and lawlessness came with the depression. Many resorted to violence and thievery to make ends meet, rather than looking for work. There was also an outcry regarding the younger generation. They were viewed as lazy and Nast himself said in other cartoons they would rather take the easy road to fortune than working hard for it like their fathers. He likened the generation to people such as Boss Tweed, who had embezzled millions of tax dollars during his time as a politician at Tammany Hall. So in this way, Nast lectures the lawless rebels in the country and tells them to find an honest job so they could make honest money. <br><br> Reduction of the military comes from the Democratic push to remove military privileges. At this point in history the military was being used to uphold the law and protect its citizens. They were managing the hostilities between settlers and Native American in the west, and African Americans and white supremacist in the South. So naturally the Democrats, who had a strong powerbase in southern white supremacists, wanted them gone. And they were winning. <br><br> Standing above the papers is a fasces, an ancient Roman symbol representing magistrate's power. In this case, it represents the country as whole. The wooden shafts read "City Debt," "National Debt," "State Debt" and " Country Debt." The ribbons holding them together read "Union of Debts" and "E pluribus unum" (Out of many, one). <br><br> At the top of the image are quotes from George Washington regarding the national debts after the Revolutionary War and how they should be managed.


  • CONDITION: Good condition.