Soldiers' Christmas Online Exhibit

Santa Claus in Camp

Black-and-white illustration from Harper's Weekly magazine, January 3, 1863 issue, of 'Santa Claus' visiting a military camp during the Civil War.

Caption: Santa Claus in Camp. -- [See page 6.]

Source: Illustration from Harper's Weekly, January 3, 1863, front page.

Thomas Nash (1840-1902) began working as an illustrator when he was fifteen years old. By 1862, he had a regular position with Harper's Weekly, and during the Civil War he became well-known for his political cartoons in support of the Union cause. The illustration "Compromise with the South," published in 1864, was believed to have been influential in re-electing President Lincoln.

Nast's cartoons are also credited with contributing to the downfall of "Boss" Tweed and Tamany Hall, popularizing the donkey and elephant as symbols of the Democratic and Republican parties, and popularizing the modern image of Santa Claus. The drawing above was the first of many Santa Claus illustrations he would create for Harper's Weekly during his 24-year tenure with the publication.

For more information about Nast, see the Thomas Nast Biographyexternal link (Cartoon Library and Museum, Ohio State University).

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Last Updated: March 10, 2014