As war raged between the states in the
1860s, one of the few concepts the North and the South probably agreed
upon was the concept of Santa Claus.
To both sides, Santa Claus was second
only to baby Jesus, the personification of Christmas itself, as a means of
expressing the spirit of the holiday season. He was as popular in the
North as General Grant and as popular in the South as General Lee.
Neither side was above using the jolly
old elf as propaganda material. In fact, the Harpers Weekly drawings by
Thomas Nast were published during this era. Many of these drawings had a
pro-Union flavor, portraying Santa Claus as the benefactor of the Union
soldier. To this end, even President Lincoln made the observation that
Nast, through his use of the Santa character had become the North ‘s “best
Since the South was without the
publishing resources of the North, the Santa image was kept alive
primarily through tradition. One can only speculate whether the South
could have mounted the manpower and the morale to win if Santa had worn
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