G. F. Keller's Depiction Of Reconstruction In The American Civil War

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The 1860s, a decade that encompassed the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era, was an immensely controversial time. The country was literally divided along the issue of slavery, but President Lincoln was able to reunite it under the Emancipation Proclamation. However, even after Reconstruction was well under way and amendments to reconcile slavery were in the process of being ratified, “[f]ormer Confederates almost universally rejected the principle of black suffrage, and few accepted the constitutional legitimacy of Reconstruction.”¹ Many white southerners, knowing that black Americans held the majority in the South, sought ways to control and manipulate them once again in order to ensure that the racial hierarchy—with white Americans…show more content…
Keller captures the nativist sentiment through his interpretation of “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner” to ostentatiously show his own alignment with nativism. For example, Keller captures the nativist belief that immigrants were dangerous to American society by depicting certain racial groups eating horrendous foods. The Chinese man in the cartoon is shown eating frogs while a man representative of a different racial group is shown eating frogs. It is ambiguous as to what the Native American is eating, but it vaguely resembles the shape of an arm—which does not seem out of the question after seeing the other appalling things Keller draws other minority groups partaking in. He also revisits the racial divide between black and white Americans through his depiction of a black man serving turkey to Uncle Sam. Furthermore, the immigrants’ appearances are exaggerated, creating a dual racialization that immigrants are absurd and unassimilable. He illustrates the over-crowdedness that nativists felt by drawing a mob of people still waiting outside of the room to enjoy a meal while Lady Liberty looks on in exhaustion. By labeling the carpet as US, Keller shows symbolically that foreigners would overrun America and trample it for their own gain. Keller’s caustically racist cartoon clearly communicates that the racial hierarchy places white Americans at the top while other non-white racial groups make up the bulk, as well as the bottom, of the

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