Santa cartoonist destroys politicians

Between 1860 and 1880, the illustrator Thomas Nast introduced Santa Claus as a jolly old man with a white beard and red outfit. He also invented the idea of Santa’s home-workshop, and Santa’s naughty-and-nice list.

Being a talented caricaturist, Thomas Nast (1840 – 1902) also destroyed the Tweed Ring, a group of corrupt New York City politicians, through his newspaper and magazine cartoons.

The ring was led by William Tweed, called Boss Tweed, who with his associates (including Mayor A. Oakey Hall) defrauded New York City of millions of dollars. Tweed also tried to bribe Nast to stop his relentless cartoon campaigns.

Tweed was convicted in 1873, served only one year in prison, was re-arrested in 1875 but escaped to Spain where he worked as a seaman. Someone recognized him from the famous cartoons and he was returned to the United States in 1876. He died in jail in 1878.

Nast’s Santa survived, and so did his other famous symbols: the elephant of the Republican Party (GOP or Grand Old Party) and the donkey of the Democratic Party.

10/21/2010. Category: politics. Tags: , .

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