" A Seat At The National Table ", Nast's Christmas Card, Harper's 1864

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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December 1864. Thomas Nast's ' card ' for Harper's Weekly drew a hopeful thread through our divided country. Peace is dawning, best Christmas gift ever.

Please excuse if this has already been done?

December 1864. Thomas Nast by-passed Sherman’s much vaunted Christmas gift in favor of a brighter message as the war lapped far into the Confederacy. Vociferously pro Union, Nast nonetheless chose a higher road for his Christmas sermonette. A tad heavy handed, emphasis being a humble kind of surrender ( I do understand the whole humble thing is overdone ) illustration is still hopeful in message. “ Peace “ “ Goodwill “ “ All Men “. Please no one shoot the messenger here ( I wasn’t around 150 years ago ) , Nast was on his best behavior. It's Christmas.

Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men,” proclaims the banner under which Lincoln hosts a feast . Beckoned in from the cold night, Confederate leaders are welcomed to claim their seats at our national table. Lee, Davis and Confederate governors stand in an open doorway as snow blows around them. In attitudes of tentative perusal, there's hope the threshold will be crossed.

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Northern state governors line one side, portraits of Union generals overlook the feast, empty chairs await our absent states.

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Three out of five of Nast's familiar story-line insets may hammer a little hard on the whole theme but at least one conveys uncomplicated joy at the prospect we would be glued together again as a nation. Soldiers of both armies reach out in friendship on a field strewn with arms, flags of division laid to one side, the Stars and Stripes wave over all of us. Again.

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Lady Columbia offers an olive branch to a Confederate soldier.

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The Prodigal son clings to his father in a message of family reconciliation.

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Lee and Grant, and the sword of final Peace.

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We'd be back, and soon. Goodwill to All Men, God Rest Ye.

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Was Heil, fellow Americans. To all of us, at Christmas.


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