Nast was born in Landau in der Pflaz, Germany in 1840. He came to the U.S. at age six and was educated in New York City. He won a job as illustrator for Leslie's Weekly. By 1860, Nast sailed to England to cover the Heenan-sayers world heavyweight championship fight as an artist for the New York Illustrated News. He also became a war correspondent under Giuseppe Garibaldi in Italy. By 1862, he worked for Harper's Weekly Magazine as a war correspondent. Nast became known as a cartoonist rather than an illustrator, depicting aspects of politics and society. Every presidential candidate whom he supported was elected. He is considered the father of American political cartooning.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Thomas Nast |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=19 February 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>