Chinese Immigrants

April 20th, 2009

"The Chinese Question"

This cartoon was published in Harper’s Weekly on February 18, 1871. Thomas Nast drew the cartoon. Thomas Nast was a Radical Republican and  credited with helping Lincoln win his re-election in 1864 with a single cartoon. Nast is considered today to be one of the first great American cartoonist and was not afraid of showing his own personal feelings in his cartoons. Today he is known as being a strong advocate for equality in the United States. 

The caption under the cartoon reads “Hands off, gentlemen! America means fair play for all men”. This is being said by Columbia, and is trying to protect the Chinese man from the American mobs. In the later part of the 19th century America’s west coast, especially San Francisco, was witnessing a large increase of immigrants from China. During this time many Americans felt that the immigrants would come into American and take their jobs. This fear led to many violent acts against many Chinese immigrants, and even led to the United States passing the Chinese Exclusion Act, banning many Chinese immigrants from entering the country. 

Thomas Nast Emancipation

April 3rd, 2009

No Known Restrictions: "Emancipation" by Thomas Nast, ca. 1865 (LOC) by

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.

[picture source]

This is political cartoon, entitled “We Draw the Line At This” from the December 1893 edition of Judge, a weekly satire magazine [source]. Judge was founded in 1881 as a political satire magazine. [source]

In it depicts an extreme caricature of Queen Lili’uokalani the last monarch of Hawaii. Soldiers from all sections of the U.S. military are holding up a disc with their bayonets. Sitting on this platform is the queen with bare feet, an askew crown with feathers, and holding papers saying “gross immorality” and “scandalous government.” In analyzing the picture many things come to mind. The feathers, first, seem to resemble a Native American head dress. The Queen’s face is perhaps the most telling: her big lips and eyes, over emphasized to relate her ’subhuman nature’. This demonstrates the mindset of many Americans during this time in regards to the native population of  Hawaii. 

Here is a picture of Queen Lili’uokalani on her throne looking very regal, a far cry from the previous picture [source]:

Queen Lili’uokalani did not spend much time ruling Hawaii. She became the monarch after her brother died in 1893 until the U.S. removed her from the throne in 1894. During this short period and for years after, she tried to restore life for native Hawaiians back to its former glory when the Hawaiians were the ruling class and the outsiders could not own land. It was in 1893 that the U.S. Marines were sent to Hawaii. Some white sugar farmers then seized this opportunity to stage a coup and the queen was put under house arrest. [source] Lili’uokalani tried to petition the U.S. government to not annex Hawaii but to no avail. President McKinley signed the papers on July 7, 1898. [source]

Lincoln’s Assassination

April 3rd, 2009

The lithograph of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre Washington D.C. April 14th 1865 is pretty self explanatory. From left to right: Henry Rathbone (US military officer), Clara Harris (Henry Rathbone’s fiancé), Mary Todd Lincoln (Lincoln’s wife), Abraham Lincoln (US President), and John Wilkes Booth (assassin). This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division. The publisher is Currier & Ives of New York. The copyright date is 1865. Lincoln’s assassination was the first in presidential US History. Actor John Wilkes booth entered the presidential box at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC and shot President Lincoln. Mind you this is before they had security for the President. Upset with General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Booth sought action that he thought would aid the South. Booth shot him in the back of his head no killing him instantly however. He died the next morning. Booth escaped the theatre before anyone knew what had officially happened. Booth eventually was captured and assassinated. Though Lincoln was recognized as a hero to some to others such as Booth he was a threat.   


April 3rd, 2009

This cartoon was a wood engraving by Thomas Nast and appeared in the Harper’s Weekly newspaper on January 24, 1863 on page 56 and 57. The cartoon depicts a nationwide response to Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation of January 1. Emancipation marked the completion of the anti-slavery movement. The drawing contrasts slavery’s past with a fairly optimistic rendition of the future for newly freed slaves. While the left side of the drawing retells many evils of slavery, the right side displays a progressive future in which African Americans become productive, contributing members of society. Campaigning against the evils of slavery, and the Confederate cause overall, Nast displays a brutal whipping, an emotional slave auction, and the frightening hunt for fugitive slaves. The jubilant Columbia character on the right side links emancipation with patriotism. Former slaves are seen being treated with respect by their former masters, collecting pay for their work, and even attending school. At the center of all this is a reunited family representing the end to the forced separation of families due to the interstate slave trade. The cheerful family marks the end of slavery’s hardships across the Union and the beginning of a new era that Nast believes will be one of great progress. The cartoon, as it was half fiction, was an essential tool of propaganda commonly used in newspapers such as Harper’s Weekly to promote the victories of the war and the moral high ground possessed by the Union. The cartoon was meant not only to promote the political agenda of the Lincoln administration, but also weaken the position of the Confederacy and its sympathizers. In the same fashion that the Emancipation Proclamation only initially targeted slaves in Confederate states, the drawing depicts not only the evils of the slavery that was but also the mutual benefit that would come of freedom. By linking emancipation with a greater patriotic duty the need for a Union victory in the Civil War would have much greater popular support.

Museum Post Four-Dred Scott

April 3rd, 2009

Dred Scott, 1887

Dred Scott, 1887

The image displayed is a portrait of Dred Scott by artist Louis Schultze in 1887. The picture gives the viewer the visible belief of what Dred Scott looked like during the 19th Century. The painting of Scott was created post-slavery; the white buttoned down shirt, bow tie, and blazer indicated Scott had some money to show his social class as a free African American. This type of formal posture was a very common way to pose for a portrait. The painting was originally taken from a photograph; the photographer is unknown. The painting is oil on canvas and is a 25 by 30 inch portrait. The painting was given to the Missouri Historical Society after Scott’s death to commemorate his fight for freedom.

In 1857, Dred Scott, a slave unsuccessfully tried to sue the United States for his freedom in the Dred Scott vs. Sandford case. Scott and his wife Harriet were slaves, but had lived in states where slavery was illegal such as in the Wisconsin area. The Supreme Court decision declared that neither he, nor any person of African ancestry, could claim citizenship in the United States. Since Scott was a slave, he was not considered a citizen of the U.S. and therefore could not sue the court.

Louis Schultze was born in Germany around 1820 and immigrated to the United States during the mid 19th century; he resided in St. Louis, Missouri. Schultze was known for painting portraits of historical, religious, and genre scenes. Besides being known for his painting of Dred Scott, he also painted “And the Colored Troops Fought Nobly,” which was shown at the National Academy of Design in 1867. Schultze wanted to paint a portrait of Dred Scott because he was very interested in the “colored people.” He was very curious about Scott because he was one of the first African Americans to fight for his freedom in court. The photograph Schultze used of Dred Scott is the only real picture of Scott from the 19th Century.

Link Source:


April 3rd, 2009

 ”Those are the same stars, and that is the same moon, that look down upon your brothers and sisters, and which they see as they look up to them, though they are ever so far away from us, and each other.  ~Sojourner Truth

Isabella Baumfree was born a slave circa 1797 in New York.  She had several owners.  When she was owned by the Dumont family, she married Thomas who was also a slave.  They had five children.  After being freed under New York law, one of Isabella’s sons was sold as a slave in Alabama.  Isabella fought for his freedom and won.   

She had a religious conversion and became a traveling speaker and preacher.  Isabella changed her name to Sojourner Truth in 1843, as she believed the Holy Spirit instructed her to do so.  In spite of being unable to read or write, Sojourner Truth captured audiences.  She was a fiery evangelist and advocated for women’s rights and anti-slavery.  Sojourner Truth is recognized for her memoir The Narrative of Sojourner Truth.  She also gave a spirited speech that challenged the superiority of men to women, entitled “Ain’t I a Woman.”  Sojourner Truth was active during the Civil War, supporting black Union soldiers.  After the war, she traveled and preached on spiritual matters and advocated for equality for blacks and women.

The photograph of Sojourner Truth was taken circa 1864.  The photograph notes the name Brady in the lower left hand corner, the signature for Mathew Brady Studios.  In the lower right hand corner is the location of where the picture was taken – New York.  The photograph was taken inside.  Sojourner Truth is wearing a scarf on her head and layered in clothing, consisting of a blouse, vest, jacket, and skirt.  The jacket has bold stripes on the sleeves.  Sojourner Truth is wearing eye glasses and appears to be holding a speech.  The photograph is an albumen silver print, used until the 1890s as the best way to capture an image.  This method of photography consisted of the combination of egg whites and silver nitrate.  The photograph is now housed in the National Portrait Gallery.  

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.

Horrid Massacre in Virginia

April 2nd, 2009

Nat Turner's Rebellion

Nat Turner

This image is a print of a woodcut summarizing the Nat Turner rebellion in Virginia. It was created in 1831 and it is unknown who the creator of the image is. It is housed in the library of congress rare book and special collections department. The link for its information page gives its exact location in the library, as well as where it came from, here

The Library of Congress says that it was originally an illustration in Authentic and impartial narrative of the tragical scene which was witnessed in Southampton County. This account was published in New York in 1831. However, all of my web-searching leads me back to the image, but does not really clarify on its original function. Personally, I think it was a propaganda tool used to make out Turner’s rebellion to be worse than it was and to scare White slave owners and make them aware of the ‘blood thirsty’ nature of their slaves. Samuel Warner was the man who published this account of the slave uprising in Southampton County, which led to many innocent blacks being killed and slave owners tightening up their plantations and becoming more strict. ( )

The following excerpt is the full text of Warner’s publication to which this woodcut was a part of:

Horrid Massacre In consequence of the alarming increase of the Black population at the South, fears have been long entertained that it might one day be the unhappy lot of the whites, in that section, to witness scenes similar to those which but a few years since, nearly depopulated the once flourishing island of St. Domingo of its white inhabitants–but, these fears have never been realized even in a small degree, until the fatal morning of the 22d of August last, when it fell to the lot of the inhabitants of a thinly settled township of Southampton county (Virginia) to witness a scene horrid in the extreme!–when FIFTY FIVE innocent persons (mostly women and children) fell victims to the most inhuman barbarity. The melancholy and bloody event was as sudden and unexpected, as unprecedented for cruelty–for many months previous an artful black, known by the name of Nat Turner, (a slave of Mr. Edward Travis) who had been taught to read and write, and who hypocritically and the better to enable him to effect his nefarious design, assumed the character of a Preacher, and as such as sometimes permitted to visit and associate himself with many of the Plantation Negroes, for the purpose (as was by him artfully represented) of christianizing and to teach them the propriety of their remaining faithful and obedient to their masters; but, in reality, to persuade and to prepare them in the most sly and artful manner to become the instruments of their slaughter!–in this he too well succeeded, by representing to the poor deluded wretches the Blessings of Liberty, and the inhumanity and injustice of their being forced like brutes from the land of their nativity, and doomed without fault or crime to perpetual bondage, and by those who were not more entitled to their liberty than themselves!–and he too represented to them the happy effects which had attended the united efforts of their brethren in St. Domingo, and elsewhere, and encouraged them with the assurance that a similar effort on their part, could not fail to produce a similar effect, and not only restore them to liberty but would produce them wealth and ease!… Yet we cannot hold those entirely blameless, who first brought them from their native plains–who robbed them of their domestic joys–who tore them from their weeping children and dearest connections, and doomed them in this “Land of Liberty” to a state of cruel bondage!… To remove this stain from the American people the energies of justice, the life of virtue, and the sacred obligations of principle must be brought into operation. We have already said that all men are born equal–that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, LIBERTY and the pursuit of happiness. But do we mean by the term ALL MEN, to be understood those of a white complexion only, and that nature has denied, or the Creator withheld, from those of other shades, the rights which have been contended for?… The colonization scheme of which we have heard at Washington, was opened to the public with feeling and pathetic acknowledgments that Africans were men and that from us they had a right to look for justice. Hence it cannot be denied, they are literally and in fact included in our bill of rights, nor can we be exonerated from the charge of tyranny until by our solemn act we place them in full possession of those rights which are claimed for ourselves, and which are consistent with the principles of our excellent government. While we believe it to have been the object and compatible with the views of the framers of our constitution, to “form a perfect union, establish justice and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” we cannot admit that they ever intended to entail upon the sons of Africa the chains of perpetual slavery!–and we rejoice that we have it in our power to say that the reputation of the New-England States (as well as that of New-York, New-Jersey and Pennsylvania) is no longer tarnished with this foul stain–her humane and Philanthropic sons have wisely burst asunder the chains of bondage and set the captive free!

The excerpt can be seen here,…

It depicts the insurrection led by this famous slave that resulted in the deaths of many slave owners and their families. African Americans in the 1830’s seeing this image would be hit with a great amount of pride and emotion because it portrayed a slave standing up for himself and others rights to live a good life. While the image portrays Turner and the rebellious slaves in a very barbaric manor, I feel it captures the mood of the rebellion very accurately. From all accounts I have heard of the rebellion it was a very bloody and ruthless event. The image is entitled “Horrid Massacre in Virginia” and it is definitely not attempting to portray the event in any positive light, and it is a white man’s representation of the event, clearly because it is serving to point out the ruthless barbarity of the slaves and set them aside as inhuman.

The significance of my choosing a woodcutting for the image, when there were many other choices, is that it is something that has been lost in time. There are not really any more woodcut images in today’s world as everything has been digitized and we depend on cameras now instead of artist renditions, which takes away some of the flaws having to do with bias and interpretations which provides us with greater

This lithograph is called “I’m not to blame for being white, sir!” The image is believed to have been created by Dominque C. Fabronius in 1862. The image was published in Boston by G.W. Cottrell. The image is a lithograph on wove paper and its dimensions are 30.2 x 22.3cm, and is currently being held at the Library of Congress.

The image is meant as an attack on Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner, who was a prominent antislavery advocate. He played an important role in the struggle for abolition of slavery. He also was a supporter of equal rights for African Americans, the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and the creation of a Freedman’s Bureau.

Fabronius, who immigrated to the United States in the 1850s, created the lithograph to challenge Sumner’s humanitarianism by portraying him giving money to a black child and at the same time ignoring the needs of a poor white little girl, who is standing directly in front of him.

The image also could be a general attack on all abolitionists. Fabronius is calling into question the priorities of whites who would place African Americans’ rights over the concerns of white people.