Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Nicole Phelps

Second Advisor

Dona Brown

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Fenton


Irish, race, cartoons, Anglo-Saxon


This paper examines the role of political cartoons in shaping racial mentalities in Great Britain and the United States from the start of the Civil War in 1861 until the Treaty of Washington in 1872. Looking at one culturally significant magazine in each country, Punch and Harper’s, this paper traces how each nation’s respective caricatures of the Irish grew increasingly similar as their relations improved. Though relations between the two were tenuous, both nations faced bands of rioting Irish, the Fenians, who aimed to provoke a rift between them in order to take Ireland for themselves. Cartoonists on both sides of the Atlantic responded with anti-Fenian imagery that toyed with their racial makeup in relation to white Anglo-Saxons and blacks. After years of playing around with this imagery, both countries established a more solidified understanding of Anglo-Saxonism, and managed to specify the reasons why the Irish did not belong in that category, bring the two nations together at their expense. By the end of the 1860s, as the Fenian presence on both sides of the Atlantic waned, this anti-Fenian prejudice transformed into anti-Irish prejudice, categorizing the entirety of Ireland with the actions of the small sect of Fenian rebels. Ultimately, this paper challenges the conclusion that Fenianism died out at the end of the 1860s, contending that while the movement faded, the specific anti-Irish rhetoric and imagery it helped develop remained active in the public sphere well into the early twentieth century.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.