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Uncle Sam's older, classier sister Columbia fell out of favor after women got the vote.


But long before he first appeared, artists drew upon a visual tradition that stretched back centuries to depict America as a woman.

Over time, the appearance and meaning of this allegorical female figure has varied widely. The answer depends on who is in power, and how they define beauty and belonging. In the sixteenth century, European mariners, explorers, traders, and missionaries began to relay dramatic descriptions of an exotic New World, teeming with strange plants and animals, and populated by unfamiliar peoples.

No longer just a symbol of continental conquest and commerce, representations of British Colonial America took on a distinctly political tone. Adopting a Native American warrior as a national symbol allowed rebellious colonists to distinguish themselves from the British and define themselves as a new nation of people forged by their sojourn in the North American wilderness. Yet this could be a double-edged symbol, as this British print from indicates:. Here, the figure representing America stretches out her hand towards Europe, who surrounds herself with a palette, a globe, maps, and other scientific implements — all the attributes of learning and the fine arts.

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In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, the European vogue for Neoclassicism influenced the ways in which Americans personified their new nation. As the eighteenth century drew to a close, the American warrior queen looked more and more like a European courtier. Dressed in pristine white or draped in the Stars and Stripes, Columbia displayed the virtues that white Americans sought to claim as their own: the cap of Liberty, the sword of Justice, the olive branch of Peace, and the laurel wreath of Victory.

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Published during the contentious presidential election ofNast used this cartoon to skewer Horace Greeley nominated by both the Democratic Party and a breakaway faction of Republicans by depicting him as a menacing wolf poorly disguised in a coat. In doing so, Nast sought to redefine his political preference as the virile defense of the nation, much as the knife-wielding Uncle Sam defends the lovely shepherdess Columbia.

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Even during wartime, the figure of Columbia could be used to invest political opinions with the weight of moral imperative, as in this highly partisan cartoon from the Civil War. This cartoon ran in the New York World, a pro-Democratic Party newspaper that fanned opposition to the Union cause in the wake of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Many working-class New Yorkers feared that newly freed African Americans would become a source of competition for jobs. In the summer ofafter the first lottery under the Conscription Act, the city exploded in the deadly and destructive Draft Riots.

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Appalled eyewitnesses reported mobs of men and women participating in atrocities that included lynchings, looting, and the burning of the Colored Orphan Asylum. Press s hurried to assert that the women who took part in such violence and destruction were not American women at all, but Irish. In contrast to the idealized features of Lady Columbia, caricaturists of the time often drew both African American women and Irish women with exaggeratedly small eyes, upturned noses, and wide mouths.

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Hoping to prevent further violence in the following year, President Lincoln briefly shut down the World for publishing an inflammatory and fraudulent document alleging that he planned to call up hundreds of thousands of additional troops — a fabrication that the cartoon of Columbia references. For example, during World War I, illustrator Charles Dana Gibson created this poster showing Columbia fighting the spectre of death on behalf of a wounded soldier.

Although this poster was used to recruit drivers for the American Field Service, a volunteer ambulance corps, the AFS did not actually accept women drivers.

Instead, many women ed the Red Cross Motor Corps. Unlike Columbia in her diaphanous white drapery, the women of the Motor Corps dressed in practical gray uniforms which, controversially, included pants to carry out their life-saving duties: bringing needed supplies to canteens, hospitals, and camps, transporting sick and wounded troops, and carrying civilian casualties of the influenza pandemic. Unidentified photographer.

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Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. American women contributed to the war effort in many other ways as well.

Even before the United States entered the war inmany women donated time and money to aid European refugees. And, as in wars, thousands of women also served as nurses. Whether affiliated with the Army, the Navy, the Red Cross, or another volunteer organization, nurses found themselves responding to the horrific casualties of trench warfare. After the war, Stimson became the first woman to achieve the rank of major in the U. Their work was harrowing, dangerous, and often carried out under difficult conditions. The above cartoon indicates that this patriotic appeal helped win over public opinion to the cause of woman suffrage, and it was certainly instrumental in gaining the support of President Woodrow Wilson.

ByWilson had begun lobbying reluctant Congressmen and speaking publicly in favor of the suffrage amendment:.

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The war could not have been fought without them, nor its sacrifices endured. It is high time that some part of our debt of gratitude to them should be acknowledged and paid, and the only acknowledgement they ask is their admission to the suffrage.

Photos: u.s. girls' junior at columbia country club

Can we justly ignore it? The 19th Amendment was ratified in — and soon after, Lady Columbia faded away. Along with Uncle Sam, a new female figure had come to take her place. The allegorical Goddess of Liberty has an ancient pedigree, but she acquired a distinctive and uniquely American look at the end of the nineteenth century.

Laboulaye meant for the statue to celebrate the passage of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States. He also hoped to inspire his own nation to turn against Emperor Napoleon III, back to a democratic form of government. These were powerful symbols that had long been associated with the abolitionist cause. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, with Jim Crow laws in force across the U. Like Lady Columbia before her, Lady Liberty quickly came to stand for the nation as a whole, and is often used to evoke protective and patriotic feelings. An instantly recognizable yet protean figure, images of the Statue of Liberty can be found across the political spectrum including as the icon for Women at the Center!

Top Photo Credits: from left Unidentified sculptor.

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Ameriqueca. Terracotta Bequest of James Hazen Hyde, Americaca.

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New-York Historical Society Library. Unidentified sculptor. A Queen Among Queens In the sixteenth century, European mariners, explorers, traders, and missionaries began to relay dramatic descriptions of an exotic New World, teeming with strange plants and animals, and populated by unfamiliar peoples.

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Colored copperplate engraving. Harrewyn, engraver. Frontispiece, AtlasAmsterdam, Workshop of Ioannis de Ram. Copperplate engraving. Jean-Charles Baquoy, engraver. Frontispiece, Atlas Universel Gilles and Didier Robert de Vaugondy, cartographers. Unidentified artist. The Female Combatants, Courtesy of The Lewis. Walpole Library, Yale University.

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Yet this could be a double-edged symbol, as this British print from indicates: Unidentified artist. Europe and America, Colored engraving published by P. Gally, London. An Emblem of America, ca. Published by P. Barnaschino, London.

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America, 19th century. Stampa, London. Columbia, ca.

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Published by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Columbia Demands Her Children, Detail, Holy horror of Mrs. McCaffraty, Rioters Chasing Negro Women and Children, Columbia Calls Library of Congress. Charles Dana Gibson —

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