A criminal scheme of the 1880s brought presidential treasures to the Smithsonian
I was exploring storage one day with Larry Bird, emeritus curator in the museum's Division of Political History, when a very curious self-portrait of Thomas Nast caught my eye. Thomas Nast was a contributor to the Harper's Weekly magazine and is most famous for popularizing the use of the donkey and the elephant to represent the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively. Nast was also a close friend of President Ulysses S. Grant. Nast looks dejected and defeated; the overall tone of the illustration was somber, in gloomy shades of grey.