‘“Every dog” (no distinction of color) “has his day”’
Thomas Nast and the colonisation of the American West
in Comic empires
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This chapter observes how Thomas Nast – the pre-eminent cartoonist of the Reconstruction period and early ‘Gilded Age’ America – imagined colonisation of the US’ western frontier. Nast recycled racial and religious imagery from his commentary on New York and national politics to imagine the West as a place of diversity and the potential for a more equal citizenry (though this itself was not straightforward or unproblematic). Mormons in particular were a target for Nast’s pen, at the same time as other immigrant settlers, Native Americans, and Chinese railroad workers alike might appear in Nast’s cartoons as members of an American ‘family’. Nast’s images reflected a wide conversation about the broader implications of domestic imperialism; and that views on the significance of the West as a site of colonisation triggered comparative racial histories in many more Americans than just cartoonists.

Comic empires

Imperialism in cartoons, caricature, and satirical art

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