Cover of September 29, 1900 Harper's Weekly featuring Theodore Roosevelt
|Categories||News and Politics|
|First issue||January 3, 1857|
|Final issue||May 13, 1916|
|Company||Harper & Brothers|
|Based in||New York, NY|
Harper's Weekly (A Journal of Civilization) was an American political magazine based in New York. Published by Harper & Brothers from 1857 until 1916, it featured foreign and domestic news, fiction, essays on many subjects, and humor, alongside illustrations. It carried extensive coverage of the American Civil War, including many illustrations of events from the war. During its most influential period, it was the forum of the political cartoonist Thomas Nast.
Along with his brothers James, John, and Wesley, Fletcher Harper began the publishing company Harper & Brothers in 1825. Following the successful example of the Illustrated London News, Harper began publishing Harper’s Monthly in 1850. The publication featured established authors such as Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray, and within several years, its circulation and interest grew enough to sustain a weekly edition.
In 1857, Harper’s Weekly began publication in New York. By 1860 the circulation of the Weekly had reached 200,000. Illustrations were an important part of the Weekly’s content, and it developed a reputation for using some of the most renowned illustrators of the time, notably Winslow Homer, Granville Perkins and Livingston Hopkins.
Among the recurring features were the political cartoons of Thomas Nast, who was recruited in 1862 and worked with the Weekly for more than 20 years. Nast was a feared caricaturist, considered by some the father of American political cartooning. He was the first to use animals to represent the political parties—the Democrats' donkey and the Republicans' elephant. He also drew the legendary character of Santa Claus; his version became strongly associated with the figure, who was popularized as part of Christmas in the late nineteenth century.
Coverage of the Civil War 
Harper's Weekly was the most widely read journal in the United States throughout the period of the Civil War. So as not to upset its wide readership in the South, Harper’s took a moderate editorial position on the issue of slavery. Publications that supported abolition referred to it as Harper’s Weakly. The Weekly had supported the Stephen A. Douglas presidential campaign against Abraham Lincoln, but as the American Civil War broke out, it fully supported Lincoln and the Union. Some of the most important articles and illustrations of the time were the Weekly’s reporting on the war. Besides renderings by Homer and Nast, Harpers also published illustrations by Theodore R. Davis, Henry Mosler, and the brothers Alfred and William Waud.
'President maker' 
After the war, Harper's Weekly more openly supported the Republican Party in its editorial positions, and contributed to the election of Ulysses S. Grant in 1868 and 1872. In the 1870s, the cartoonist Thomas Nast began an aggressive campaign in the journal against the corrupt New York political leader William “Boss” Tweed. Nast turned down a $500,000 bribe to end his attack. Tweed was arrested in 1873 and convicted of fraud. Nast and the Weekly also played an important part in securing Rutherford B. Hayes’ 1876 presidential election. Later on Hayes remarked that Nast was "the most powerful, single-handed aid [he] had".
In 1884, however, Nast supported the Democratic candidate, Grover Cleveland for President. In doing so, Nast helped Cleveland become the first Democrat to be elected President since 1856. In the words of the artist's grandson, Thomas Nast St Hill, "it was generally conceded that Nast's support won Cleveland the small margin by which he was elected. In this his last national political campaign, Nast had, in fact, 'made a president.'" Changing editorial policies at the journal since the death of Fletcher Harper in 1877 had placed constraints on Nast, and his contributions became less frequent.
Nast's final contribution to Harper's Weekly was his Christmas illustration in December 1886. In the words of the journalist Henry Watterson, "in quitting Harper's Weekly, Nast lost his forum: in losing him, Harper's Weekly lost its political importance."
Early 1900s 
After 1900, Harper’s Weekly devoted more print to political and social issues, and featured articles by some of the more prominent political figures of the time, such as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.
In the mid-1970s Harper's Magazine used the Harper's Weekly title for a spinoff publication, again published in New York. Published biweekly for most of its run, the revived Harper's Weekly depended on contributions from readers for much of its content.
See also 
- Palmquist, Peter; Kailborn, Thomas (February 1, 2002). Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840–1865. Stanford University Press. p. 279.
- Heidler, David Stephen; Heidler, Jeanne T.; Coles, David J. (2002). Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 931. ISBN 039304758X.
- Paine 1974, pp. 181–182
- Paine 1974, p. 349
- Nast, T.; Hill, T. N. (1974). Thomas Nast: Cartoons and Illustrations. New York: Dover Publications. p. 33. ISBN 0-486-23067-8.
- Paine 1974, p. 528
- Mott, Frank Luther (1967). A History of American Magazines, 1850–1865. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press. pp. 469–471.
- Panek, LeRoy Lad (1990). Probable Cause: Crime Fiction in America. Popular Press. p. 53.
- Paine, Albert Bigelow (1974). Th. Nast, His Period and His Pictures. Princeton: Pyne Press. ISBN 0-87861-079-0 (The original 1904 edition is now in the public domain.)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Harper's Weekly|
- Virginia Civil War Archive – online images including those illustrations in Harper's Weekly during 1861–1865 that relate specifically to the Commonwealth of Virginia and its part in the Civil War.
- Access for Issues 1861–1865 via sonofthesouth.net
- Harper's Weekly at Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers – Extensive inventory of hard copies of Harper's Weekly, with photographs and detailed descriptions