“Now “The American Must Go”” 1882

“Now “The American Must Go”” – 1 July, 1882 by Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weekly. Source: UDel-Walfred. Public Domain

Two months after passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Nast included this small cartoon, a commentary on the Irish Americans’ continued thirst to exert power over the government.

Nast’s stereotyped Irishman, dressed in top hat, shamrock embroidered waistcoat and parade sash holds a stick in one hand and beckons to James Russell Lowell that he is a possible victim of expulsion or exclusion.

Lowell, a Republican, early abolitionist, political essayist and highly regarded American poet was currently serving as ambassador to the Court of St. James at the pleasure of President Arthur.  According to a report in Harper’s June 10th issue, Lowell had some say in granting American citizenship to an Irishman Mr. O’Mahoney who served in the American Navy, but conducted business and ran for office in Ireland.

Harper’s reflected on the controversy, “The Irish-Americans complaint of what they call Mr. Lowell’s `flunkeyism’ is as absurd and ignorant as it is vulgar. Mr. Lowell, though personally popular, has always been criticised [Sic]in London society for his marked and often combative Americanism.”

Now finished with the Chinese, Nast’s Irishman attacks an American who is living in England. Invigorated by Kearney’s victory over the Chinese, this Irishman is brazenly confident that Irish power can decree who gets to be an American and who doesn’t.

On the wall a framed picture of an Irishman raises a club above a Chinese man in an effort to drive him out. The caption reads,

“We have a new gospel of Americanism in this evening of the nineteenth century – a gospel that declares Kearney shall be supreme in California, and shall close the ‘golden gate’ against the Chinaman; and which prescribes that in the East the commissions of our ministers shall be countersigned by an Irish ‘suspect.’ ‘The American must go'” – From The Hour

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