Anti-black Violence


 "Patience on a Monument"
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   October 10, 1868, p. 648

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Nast dramatizes again the continuity between anti-black violence undertaken by segments of the Democratic party during the Civil War and, currently, regarding Reconstruction: the draft-riot arson of the Colored Orphan Asylum (l) and a Ku Klux Klan torching of a freedman's school (r); while a lynched black man hangs on both sides.

The centerpiece of the cartoon is a stele (an inscribed monument) which lists the atrocities blacks in America have endured from slavery through the present time of the 1868 election. Seated atop the monument is a black man (also a Union veteran) who is patience personified. Adding to his misery, his family lies murdered at the base of the monument.

For the cartoon's inspiration, Nast once more tapped the popular Shakespeare repertoire, taking the title from Twelfth Night (Act II, Scene 4): "like Patience on a monument, smiling at Grief." The quote is part of Viola's veiled confession of love to Duke Orsino, and it was used by Catherine Morland in Jane Austin's Northhanger Abbey to describe how young women in love always look. Nast takes the idea of women constrained by society and applies it to black Americans oppressed by violent hatred and unjust discrimination.













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