Santa Claus’s Creator Was a New Jersey Resident

Published January 21, 2013 by Maryanne

Santa ClausSanta Claus drawing by Thomas Nast

Yes, Santa Claus — the modern, most popular version as we know him, fat and jolly — was created by artist Thomas Nast, a German born American lived in Morristown, New Jersey, moving there with his family in 1870. (Which is across the street from the Macculloch Hall Museum. I went there yesterday for the second time and it’s just amazing!)

In addition to drawing Santa Claus, Thomas Nast was also famous for his political cartoons which were featured in Harper’s Weekly.

One cartoon that I’m especially intrigued with is his portrayal of Victoria Woodhull, an American leader of the woman’s suffrage movement.

Free loveThomas Nast drawing of Victoria Woodhull

Woodhull was an advocate of “free love” (freedom to marry, divorce and bear children without interference from the government). She was also into spiritualism and vegetarianism.

She was the first woman to start a weekly newspaper; an activist for women’s rights and labor reforms. In 1872, she was the first female candidate for President of the United States.

Pretty mind-blowing for the 1800s, right? This woman is one of my heroes!

But all these great ideas were considered controversial for the time, therefore some considered her satanic, as depicted in the above drawing by Thomas Nast.

Here is more information on the Macculloch Hall Historic Museum in Morristown, New Jersey (and if you visit, you’ll see the home Thomas Nast lived in, right across the street, but it’s private property for a resident, not open to the public): http://www.maccullochhall.org/

Thomas Nast homeThomas Nast home (photo swiped from Google)

22 comments on “Santa Claus’s Creator Was a New Jersey Resident

  • Thomas Nast creating the Santa we know today is one more reason to like New Jersey. It is a special state to me, since my Dad was born there in 1914 and is still living in 2013. Victoria Woodhull was way ahead of her time. If only someone had listened to her then and enforced what she believed in.

      • I too believe in miracles, since my wife’s doctor told us that he didn’t think she would live more than two days after her second surgery in four days in 2010 and she is still alive 3 years later. The surgery was on a Friday and he didn’t expect her to be alive, when he returned the next Monday.

      • The surgeon told me that our pastor must have been sending up some mighty powerful prayers for her to live through the surgery. Her vital organs were starting to shut down right before the surgery and Rhonda was having trouble breathing. The doctor had told her not to stop smoking right before her first surgery, but she stopped that day and has never smoked since that day on March 1, 2010. The doctor thought it would be too much for her system to handle, stopping smoking and having surgery on the same day.

      • I was called to the hospital about midnight when Rhonda went into septic shock. Rhonda said she knew something was wrong, when her hospital room was filled with doctors and the doctors told me the next morning in ICU that they didn’t know what was wrong. It was the next afternoon before they did surgery and performed a ileostomy. It took her seven months before she could do anything in the house, so I took care of all the household chores, plus assisted Rhonda with her bandaging of her surgical wounds.

      • Now Rhonda is taking care of me, since I am the sick one. I beg to let her let me at least wash the dishes, but she won’t let me and she drives me back and forth on the 160 mile round trip to the VA hospital. I would drive, but she says she doesn’t like being a passenger.

  • Always love reading about New Jersey. It is such a rich and varied state. Woodhull was actually enshrined in the National Women’s Hall of Fame here in Seneca Falls NY in 2001. She is one of 247 women honored — historical and contemporary. I’m not sure she owned the first woman-owned newspaper in the country. I think that might have been The Lily, started in 1849 by Amelia Bloomer in Seneca Falls — birthplace of women’s rights and home to the first women’s rights convention.

  • What an amazing woman! I love hearing about leaders like this – it’s just awful that people ‘demonised’ open minded women. Imagine what our world would be like if women like this ruled the world (I can only dream).

    And I love Santa!

    • Yes, crazy story, right? I guess that’s where the term “throwing womanhood back to the 1800s” came from. I’m a pretty vocal woman myself, so I loved her story (and Santa too of course!) πŸ˜‰

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