The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
»Cartoon Title: "THE BIG THING"

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April 20, 1867, page 256

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HarpWeek Commentary: In this Harper’s Weekly cartoon, Thomas Nast ridicules the American government’s purchase of Alaska from Russia by depicting Secretary of State William H. Seward as an elderly mother caring for her child, a small version of Uncle Sam.  The latter is irritated because of his sore head—i.e., President Andrew Johnson (“Andy”), whose lenient Reconstruction policy had angered Republicans.  Uncle Sam shakes his fist at a portrait of “King Andy,” a pejorative nickname for Johnson.  Seward tries to relieve the national pain by applying Redding’s Russia Salve, a popular ointment for skin maladies advertised in the pages of Harper’s Weekly and elsewhere.  For Nast, the purchase of Alaska was an administration ploy to ease widespread resentment toward the president.  On the wall poster in the cartoon’s background, Uncle Sam is shown trudging in snowshoes across the icy tundra, planting American flags on Alaskan mountaintops, as polar bears and walruses watch.  A picture of an Eskimo family is sarcastically labeled “One of the Advantages.”

Old Mother Seward, "I'll rub some of this on his sore spot; it may soothe him a little."

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