Irish Americans (Multicultural America:)
Thomas Nast (1840-1902) was a political cartoonist for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (1855-1859) and staff artist of Harper's Weekly (1862-1886). A biting satirist, he popularized many stereotypes and images of the Gilded Age, such as the Republican elephant, the Democratic donkey, and Santa Claus. From 1869 to 1872 he used the power of his published cartoons to attack the corrupt administration of New York City boss William Marcy Tweed (1823-1878) and was largely responsible for Boss Tweed's downfall.
Nast was also suspicious of Irish Catholics and helped perpetuate the notion that they were the bane of American society. In this cartoon for Harper's, he depicted an intractable and uncooperative Irish boy whose schoolteacher has confiscated his rum and weapons, items often associated with Ireland during this period. Note that Nast filled the schoolhouse with popular images of American virtue, such as the U.S. Constitution and the Bible, which he believed were threatened by the foreign culture of Irish Catholic immigrants.
But Nast was unaware of something. In 1931 the American Historical Association reinterpreted the findings of the U.S. census of 1790 and came up with some startling results. Whereas the Scotch-Irish population had long been thought to represent only 8.9 percent of the population in 1790, the analysis of 1931 showed that it really made up some 17.6...
(The entire section is 14949 words.)
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