Guiding Question: To what extent did Founding principles of liberty, equality, and justice become a reality for African Americans from Reconstruction to the end of the nineteenth century?
- I can interpret primary sources related to Founding principles of liberty, equality, and justice from the colonial era to the outbreak of the Civil War.
- I can explain how laws and policy, courts, and individuals and groups contributed to or pushed back against the quest to end slavery.
- I can create an argument using evidence from primary sources.
- I can analyze issues in history to help find solutions to present-day challenges.
Thomas Nast was a famous political cartoonist and influential contributor to Harper’s Weekly, a New York–based publication that featured foreign and domestic news, fiction, and illustrations. The following images by Nast appeared in Harper’s Weekly in 1874. Nast depicted a member of the White League and a Ku Klux Klan member shaking hands over a shield depicting “The Lost Cause.” An African American family cowers under a skull, while a schoolhouse burns and a man is lynched in the background.
Image: Thomas Nast, “The Union As It Was”, 1874
The Union As It Was by Thomas Nast, 1874
Comprehension and Analysis Questions
- Compare Nast’s depiction of white supremacist groups with the description in Documents 8 and 9. Which do you find more effective? Why?
- Nast’s cartoon was drawn 3 years after the final Enforcement Act was passed. What does this reveal about Klan violence in the South?
More from this Category
Thomas Nast on Reconstruction | BRIdge from the Past: Art Across U.S. History
What impact did the Reconstruction Amendments have on the application of our Founding principles? In this video, Mary and Gary explore two Reconstruction-era cartoons by Thomas Nast. “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner" (1869) and “The Union As It Was" (1874) give insight into the nature of liberty and equality in the United States shortly after the Civil War. Do you agree with Nast’s commentary about the intentions and consequences of Reconstruction?