Bloody Shirt and Bloody Chasm


 H.G. "Let Us Clasp Hands Over the Bloody Chasm"
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   October 19, 1872, p. 804

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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.

Here, in the October 19, 1872 issue of Harper's Weekly, Nast represents the Democratic victory in the Georgia state elections as an ominous turning-point in the lives of Southern blacks. Over the bodies of two murdered black men, Greeley clasps hands with a former Confederate soldier, gun behind his back, with one foot on the American flag and the other on the back of one of the black men. Behind Greeley, some Southern white men cast their ballots, while in the left-background others open fire on a group of black men. The question on the polling place-"What are you going to do about it?"-was "Boss" Tweed's alleged response to inquiries into the corrupt practices of Tammany Hall. The message of this cartoon is clear: Greeley's trimming of his principles for the sake of political office will result in disaster, perhaps extermination, for Southern blacks.













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