Thou Art the Brightest Jewel in My Crown

Thomas Nast American, born Germany
Engraver Joseph T. Speer American
Subject Andrew Johnson American

Not on view

Widely considered to be one of the most important American satirists of the nineteenth century, Thomas Nast was a leading cartoonist in the United States in the mid to late nineteenth century. An outspoken defender of principled politicians, Nast targeted leaders whom he deemed unethical through his biting illustrations. These works harnessed popular references that could be easily understood by a partially illiterate audience.

In 1868 the United States House of Representatives resolved to impeach President Andrew Johnson for removing the secretary of war from office without the approval of the Senate—a violation of the Tenure Office Act. Johnson, whom Nast’s cartoons often adversely referred to as "King Andy," is pictured donning a fur-trimmed cloak, and his stare is fixed on a jewel-encrusted crown. The caption refers to the glimmering gem at the top of the crown inscribed "Chase." This is a reference to Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, who was criticized for overstepping his authority when he made several unilateral rulings in Johnson’s favor without soliciting the opinions of the Senate.

Thou Art the Brightest Jewel in My Crown, Thomas Nast (American (born Germany), Landau 1840–1902 Guayaquil), Relief print and electrotype

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