Friday, February 8, 2013

"The Day We Celebrate" - St. Patrick's Day (1867)

This is probably my favourite image depicting the drunken, violent Irish stereotype that was popular in certain quarters of the American press in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In this case we see the Irishmen battering forty shades of shite out of the local constabulary in New York City in celebration of that most holy of holidays, St. Patrick's Day. It was created by Thomas Nast, known as the "Father Of The American Cartoon". One of the many things I find funny is the likelihood that in that place, at the time many of the cops depicted were also Irish. Nast was a German-born American cartoonist whose work was hugely popular in his lifetime and whose influence is still felt in political cartoons. He contributed towards the image of Uncle Sam, Santa Claus, and the use of donkeys and elephants in the American political context. Nast, as can be clearly seen here and in numerous other cartoons, had no great fondness for the Irish (nor for that matter Catholicism). He did, however, defend Native American, African American and Chinese American rights in his cartoons. This cartoon appeared in Harper's Weekly, in April, 1867.

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