A Timely Shower Down on the Farm by John Francis Knott –
Saturday, February 29, 1936
This political cartoon pictured above and entitled “A Timely Shower Down on the Farm” is in reference to the Soil Conservation Bill, which is also known as the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1936, which was passed on February 29 of 1936, the same day that this newspaper was first printed (“Soil Conservation Bill”). This bill was passed by the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, also commonly called “FDR.”
President Roosevelt was known for his vast expansion of government aid programs, in particular the New Deal, which was a series of federal aid programs intended to help the public recover from the economic downturn in the United States during the 1930s known as the Great Depression. Some of these programs include the Social Security act, which helped the unemployed by giving them money to live on in the form of pensions; the CCC or Civilian Conservation Corps, which helped to remove the excess amount of people looking for work that were in cities at the, as well as provide money for families; and the AAA or Agricultural Adjustment Act, which protected farmers from the cost of their crops dropping by providing subsidies to them.
The Soil Conservation Bill was largely put in place as a replacement of the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which was ruled unconstitutional in the month prior to the passing of this bill (“Seventy-Fourth Congress”); as such, the goal of the Soil Conservation Bill, much like that of the Agricultural Adjustment Act, was to financially support farmers so that they would grow more soil-conserving crops to help prevent more soil erosion, a great problem in the 1930s due to the Dust Bowl (Gregg), a series of severe dust storms and droughts that plagued farmers throughout the 1930s.
The article which accompanies this cartoon, simply entitled “Soil Conservation Bill,” talks about the bill and its goal to prevent further soil erosion by reducing the farmers’ crops and compensating them for the resulting loss in income. Because the newspaper that this article and cartoon were printed in was first run the day the Soil Conservation Bill was passed, the writer and cartoonist could not have known whether President Roosevelt would sign the bill. However it seems clear that he will, considering the sort of government aid programs President Roosevelt has approved in the past. The author of the article even goes as far as to say that it is “doubtless” that President Roosevelt will sign the bill (“Soil Conservation Bill”).
The humor of this cartoon is derived from the use of metaphors.
The political cartoon depicts a farmer and his family on their farm, which serves to represent the farmer’s livelihood, which seems to be experiencing a drought as shown by the leafless and perhaps dead tree in the background as well as the apparent lack of grass (Knott). This is representative of the farmers’ lack of income as well as the more literal effect of the Dust Bowl. The farmer remarks that the soil needs the rain (Knott), which is used to represent the money given to the farmers by the Soil Conservation Bill “cloud.” The name of the cartoon, “A Timely Shower Down on the Farm,” refers to the good timing of the bill in order to improve the state of not only the farmer, but also the soil.
“Seventy-Fourth Congress.” Landmark Legislation, 1774-2002: Major U.S. Acts and Treaties. Stephen W. Stathis. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2003. 205-208. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
GREGG, SARA M. “Conservation Movement.” Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. Ed. Robert S. McElvaine. Vol. 1. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. 203-206. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
Author Not Listed. “Soil Conservation Bill.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 29 Feb. 1936: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
Knott, John F. “A Timely Shower Down on the Farm.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 29 Feb. 1936: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.