The Kansas Row

April 3rd, 2009

This is an image of a political cartoon by Thomas Nast. This painting is from Thomas Nast’s Grand Caricaturama. This was a collection depicting American History, which depicts both actual historical figures and symbolic ones as well. It was one of five surviving paintings, in a collection of 33. This particular painting was published in 1867. Its title is The Kansas Row. It is located in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division, but is not on display. The painting itself is very large measuring 7ft. 10in x 11ft. 7.5in.

The painting is shown to represent the conflict in Kansas after the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which resulted in bleeding Kansas. On the left of the painting is a Puritan who is preparing to fight the man on right. The man on the right is called a cavalier, who resembles Stephen Douglas, kicking African Americans across into Missouri. The cavalier is symbolically kicking them back into slavery.

Nast was a supporter of the free-soil members in Kansas. He saw Douglas as the cause of the conflict of the violence in Kansas, and the fact that it let the territory decide upon slavery, rather than no allow it. This was all possible with Douglas’s passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  It should be noted that this was painted by Nast almost 10 years after the events that took place in Kansas.  Many of the other paintings from the Grand Caricaturama depict satires of the South.  One being the Massacre of New Orleans and another being a satire of the Cotton King.   This collection showed Nast’s distaste towards the south.

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