April 3rd, 2009
Thomas Nast’s Emancipation attempted to portray slaves as people, not as property. It helped the general population see and appreciate the humanity the salve population did in fact have. Emancipation helped redefine the way people looked at the institution of slavery and the slaves themselves. The center picture shows the possibilities of the future and he surrounding pictures shows the horrors of the past. The center scene might of shocked people in the 19th century because it showed a black family in a typical scene a white family would experience. They have a nice home, clothing, and furniture just as a white family would have. Portraying black people as equals to whites was a bold statement that Nast made in many illustrations. Nast incorporating the surrounding images of the past of slavery reiterates that the slavery will always be ingrained not only in African Americans minds but in our history as well. It shows black women being tied up and beaten, the torture of black men, slaves being auctioned, and escaped slaves being hunted down like animals. The top half shows the spiritual conflict of good vs. evil. This illustration appeared in the 1863 January edition of Harpers Weekly on pages 56-57. It is now in the Library of Congress. The end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery raised complicated issues and dilemmas for Americans and Thomas Nast illustrated these struggles.