“More Protection in a Free Country” 1882

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“More Protection in a Free Country” 9 September, 1882 by Thomas Nast.

On the eve of the Chinese Exclusion Act’s passage, Nast drew this smaller cartoon, clearly illustrating the hypocrisy and irony of one immigrant, an Irish man, commenting that the Chinese must go.

The dapper clothes of the Irishman do not erase the crudeness of his face. Not simply “brutish” Nast draws the speaker as a fully formed ape. Nast reminds readers he is an “adopted citizen” and while his station as an immigrant has advanced to that of a business owner, he is willing to pay the price to get rid of the Chinese.

The Irishman is more than happy to pass off the Chinese problem to the British. Because of this unreasonable, hypocritical prejudice, Nast points out, John Bull, not Uncle Sam will benefit from the economical benefit derived from Chinese labor.

The Irishman’s pose is unique and suggest delight. His knees are bent and pursed together, set to leap or dance. His right arm is extended and holds a baton. The left hand lands on the shoulder of Uncle Sam, suggesting the power of familiarity.

Nast draws Uncle Sam as a lanky and stern American Eagle. His gaze is steely and down turned. This Uncle Sam is not fatherly. He displays no joy. With his hands folded behind his back, a position they would be in if his hands were tied.  He is deep in thought, but it is unclear how he feels about the Irishman or this turn of event. America’s wealth, shown as bags of gold are leaving the country along with the Chinese.   That England is now the sanctuary for the oppressed must rankle.

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