Republican Principles vs. Democratic Principles

Republican Principles vs. Democratic Principles

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Thomas Nast


Harper's Weekly 

Publication Date:

May 6, 1871


In March of 1865, one month before the South would surrender and admit defeat in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln surprised many people by the conciliatory tone of his Inaugural address. He said, "With malice toward none, with charity for all…let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds." Three years later, the election of 1868 pitted Union war hero Ulysses S. Grant, the Republican nominee, against white supremacist New York governor Horatio Seymour, the Democrat. Even though Grant was a war hero, he ran on a platform that promised peace and an end to the divisions that caused the Civil War. Seymour, however, was upset by the outcome of the Civil War and he represented the beliefs of many southerners who refused to abandon the idea of white supremacy and southern autonomy. The election threatened to stir up some of the divisions that Lincoln had hoped to bury. Here, Nast represents the United States in the guise of Columbia. Some of the issues with which Columbia decorates the grave of the rebellion in the first panel are: amnesty, which allowed for former confederates to rejoin the Union; suffrage, which extended the vote to freed male slaves. The dogs who threaten to dig up the buried animosity are: the Ku Klux Klan, which was formed by former Confederate soldiers in 1866 to resist Reconstruction, especially the integration of freed slaves; General Blair, who was a Union army General who eventually left the Republican Party in opposition to Reconstruction and unsuccessfully ran for Vice President as Seymour's running mate in 1868.


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