Bloody Shirt and Bloody Chasm


 “Let Us Clasp Hands Over the Bloody Chasm”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   September 21, 1872, p. 732

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Throughout the summer and fall, Nast made continuing use of a key slogan in Greeley's letter of May 20 accepting the Liberal Republican nomination. Underscoring the platform plank calling for amnesty of all former Confederates, Greeley concluded with a plea for the North and South "to clasp hands across the bloody chasm which has too long divided them …" (Greeley had used a similar phrase as early as April 1865 while calling for sectional reconciliation.) In various "clasping hands" cartoons, Nast would incorporate the Ku Klux Klan, John Wilkes Booth over the grave of Lincoln, a "shoulder-hitter" (i.e., a strongman for an urban political boss), and former Confederate soldiers.

One of the most spectacular shows Greeley trying to extend his reach across the grotesque vastness of the Union graves at Andersonville Prison in a ludicrous effort to connect with the hand of a tiny hooded figure on the far side. During the Civil War, at least 13,000 Union enlisted men perished of starvation or disease at the notorious Confederate prison. The prison commandant, Henry Wirz, became the only person executed for his participation in the Confederate war effort. "Let Us Clasp Hands Over the Bloody Chasm" (dated September 21) appeared in print September 11. In a stroke of fortunate timing which Nast could not have predicted, on September 15 Greeley received a speaking invitation to visit Cincinnati (September 19-21), which was hastily extended into a campaign swing through the Upper South.













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