Reconstruction Era

 “Amphitheatrum Johnsonianum”
  Source:  Harper’s Weekly
  Date:   March 30, 1867, pp. 200-201

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Horace Greeley’s second “bit part” in a major Nast satire occurred in “Amphitheatrum Johnsonianum” (March 30, 1867), and is evidence of the two men’s shared political sentiment at the time.  The image is a harsh criticism of what the cartoonist believed was President Andrew Johnson’s ultimate responsibility for the New Orleans riot of the previous summer.  On July 30, 1866, New Orleans city police and former Confederates had clashed with white delegates to a state constitutional convention and their black supporters during the early phase of Reconstruction.  The melee left 34 blacks and three white Republicans dead.  This cartoon was probably completed months before its publication and held to coincide with the release of a congressional report on the riot.

In the cartoon, President Johnson is enthroned on the left, while standing in front of him and looking down at the carnage, is Navy Secretary Gideon Welles.  The first tiny figure highlighted in the gallery beyond Welles’ profile is Greeley, who appears to be gesturing in horror as he talks with his friend George Wilkes, a fellow Republican and editor-owner of the sport paper Wilkes’ Spirit of the Times.  Behind Greeley are reformer Wendell Phillips and a gesturing Congressman Benjamin Butler, who would be one of the managers of the impeachment proceeding against the president.  Johnson, a strict constructionist on constitutional interpretation, grips a rolled paper labeled “My Constitution,” the top of which appears to come between the faces of Nast and his editor, George William Curtis.  To the left, at the edge of the drapery over Johnson’s arm, is Manton Marble, editor of the Democratic New York World, and New York Mayor John Hoffman, a member of Tammany Hall, who both seem pleased by the gory spectacle before them.



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