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Civil War Santa Claus CONTINUED
      C iv i l W a r S a n ta C l a us C O NTINUED

      a common “Christmas Spirit”. Clement Clarke             visit from his sister, who was a teacher, and a
      Moore’s famous “A Visit From St. Nicholas”,             conversation about her tradition of reading “A
      which is now known as “The Night Before                 Visit From St. Nicholas” to her students each year,
      Christmas”, was penned in 1837. Carols such as          Nast was inspired, and burned the midnight oil as
      “Jingle Bells”, introduced in the 1850s, added to       he created our modern vision of the jolly old elf.
      the formation of our own traditions, but it wasn’t
                                                                     What is perhaps most unusual about this
      until much later that our customs of the season
                                                              illustration was that it was done to accompany
      were uniformly established. It took a truly dark
                                                              an article inside the magazine, entitled “Santa
      time in our nation’s history to make that happen.
                                                              Claus Among Our Soldiers”. The year was 1862,
             Thomas Nast, himself a German                    and we were a country torn asunder by the “Civil
      immigrant, was an illustrator for Harper’s              War”/”The War Between the States”/”The War
      Weekly, which was then a popular publication.           of Northern Aggression”, depending upon one’s
      He is credited with the ‘invention’ of the              point of view.
      political cartoon, for his attacks on Boss Tweed’s
                                                                     In this original depiction, Santa was
      “Tammany Hall” political machine in 1870s New
                                                              attired in a “Stars and Stripes” outfit, handing
      York. He was the creator of the Republican party
                                                              out presents to Union troops. It was explained to
      elephant, and popularized the Democrat party
                                                              children that “You mustn’t think that Santa Claus
      donkey as well. But even more popular and well
                                                              comes to you alone.” In keeping with the partisan
      known to all is his depiction of the traditional
                                                              theme, Santa was dangling a puppet named “Jeff”
      American version of Santa Claus, inspired by the
                                                              from a noose, an obvious effigy of Confederate
      Moore poem that we all know and love.
                                                              President Jefferson Davis.
             He had been tasked with drawing a
                                                                     Nast went on to create further illustrations
      cover illustration for Harper’s Weekly, and was
                                                              of him in more familiar garb, establishing a
      suffering from a case of artist’s block. After a

      18     Discover Smith Mountain Lake  WINTER 2022
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