1840-1902. A major American political cartoonist of the 19th Century. The man who invented, or at least popularized, the animal symbols for the two major US political parties - the elephant, representing the Republican Party, and the donkey, representing the Democrats. Nast also devised the modern version of Uncle Sam, and of Santa Claus, with an illustration inspired by Clement Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" ('twas the night before Christmas...). He'd made his name with his cartoons in Harper's Weekly, but his stubborn independence of the publisher's editorial stances eventually led to his ouster in 1888. His friend Theodore Roosevelt, at a time when the formerly high-living Nast was broke, gave him a diplomat's gig in Ecuador, where he contracted yellow fever and died, shortly into his stint.

Nast is probably most famous for his long, and eventually successful, battle against William Marcy Tweed's Tammany Hall political machine in New York City. His cartoons regularly savaged Boss Tweed's corrupt administration -- in an age when English-language literacy wasn't as widespread as it is today, Nast could paint a thousand words about the ills of Tammany rule. When Tweed tried to flee to Spain, to escape prosecution, one of Nast's cartoons even served as an ad hoc wanted poster for the Spanish authorities.

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