Tag Archives: John Knot

“Well, I’ll Be Blowed!”

"Well, I'll be blowed!"
John Bull, the personification of Britain, has a bewildered expression as he looks at a naval officer representing the Royal Navy, as he sits with Mahatma Gandhi on a blanket labeled ‘Passive Resistance.’

 

“Well, I’ll Be Blowed!” is a political cartoon mocking the blow to Britain’s naval pride about the issues they were facing in 1931. The cartoon was illustrated by John Francis Knott and published on September 20th, 1931 in the Dallas Morning News. It was Autumn, 1931. The First World War had ended in 1918 and the roaring twenties followed until the stock market crash of 1929 (History.com). When the economy of the industrial world collapsed, more problems arose for Great Britain to battle. In September of 1931, Great Britain was facing many disruptions due to the start of the Great Depression and a loosening grip on not just their precious empire, but one of their own military forces.

The title of the cartoon, “Well, I’ll Be Blowed!” is an expression that became popular in Great Britain during the turn of the century to mid-1900s and was used to express great surprise, similar to “well, I’ll be darned” (Simpson “well, adv. and n.4.”). The cartoon depicts John Bull, the personification of Britain, with a bewildered expression as he looks at a naval officer representing the British navy, often referred to as the Royal Navy. The naval officer is sitting with Mohandas Gandhi on a blanket labeled ‘Passive Resistance.’ Gandhi, named Mahatma meaning ‘saint’ in Hindi, was the Nationalist leader of the passive resistance protests in India during the late 1920s and early 1930s (BBC News). Gandhi and the navy are sitting on the same blanket of resistance against Great Britain, which is unexpected because the navy was Great Britain’s strongest military force. The military was how Great Britain kept tight control over India and all of the British Empire. In the background of the cartoon, many ships are out at sea, but on shore John Bull stares at the navy sitting the blanket of passive resistance that Gandhi laid out.

John Bull became the popular persona of England and all of Great Britain in the early 1900s.  He was commonly depicted as a stout middle aged white man wearing a tailcoat, waistcoat, and boots, all from the Regency Period of the early 1800s. He also usually holds a cane and has a low top hat. John Bull is the personification of Britain in a similar manner to how Uncle Sam represents the United States of America (Johnson). John Bull is supposed to represent the majority of Great Britain and his surprise to what is happening in the cartoon represents the reaction that Great Britain was having at the time.

When this cartoon was published, Britain had been struggling to keep control over India for almost 20 years. India, known as “the jewel in the crown” of Great Britain began non-violent protests for independence in 1920. India had been under the control of the British since they arrived in India in the 1600s (BBC News). Leading up to 1931, Mahatma Gandhi had been campaigning for India’s independence through passive resistance. Gandhi had been working as a lawyer in South Africa during the early 1920’s, but after the the massacre in Amritsar in 1918, where 379 unarmed nationalist demonstrators were killed, Gandhi decided India had to stand up to Great Britain and that they would be better under their own rule (Wolpert). He quickly became a prominent leader in passive resistance against the British rule.

In the Fall of 1930, Gandhi attended the first Round Table Conference in London to discuss a new form of government for India (Trager).  In September of 1931, Gandhi was back in England for the second Round Table Conference. He wanted India and Great Britain to “exist in the Empire side by side as equal partners, held together ‘by the silken cord of love.'” As it was worded in the editorial that accompanied the cartoon in the Dallas Morning News, “It is a conflict between an idealism of a far-away future and a realism that sees things as they are.” Although, Gandhi’s desires for the country sounded beautiful, many in Great Britain didn’t think that giving India autonomy to self govern would be good for the Indian people (Dallas Morning News). Also, Great Britain’s Empire was threatened.

Not only was Great Britain having trouble with India, but with their own military, which they used to enforce their power, began protesting against them. Headline in the New York Times read, “NATION SHOCKED BY NEWS”, on September 15th of 1931, the Royal Navy conducted a protest against Great Britain at Invergordon and on the 16th there was another at Rosyth Base (Selden). The Royal Navy was the pride of Great Britain and for the first time in centuries, there was discontent there. Since far before world war one, the Royal Navy had been considered the strongest navy in the world and put much of their resources and manpower into building up their navy and keeping it strong and growing stronger. The Royal Navy became the dominant sea power in 1805 when it defeated the French and Spanish fleets during the Battle of Trafalgar (“Royal Navy History”). When the Great Depression hit them at the end of the 1920’s however, many budget cuts needed to be made and they chose to make 25% pay cuts to the royal navy (Lowry). 

With the discussion for an independent India and their protests in the air, the disorder in the navy was a slap in the face that Great Britain should have seen coming. The political cartoon by John Francis Knott laughs at the discomfort that Britain was facing as their grasp on world power appeared to be slipping. Not only was “the jewel in the crown” seeking independence, but the pride of the military was in resistance as well. In the cartoon, John Bull looked surprised and maybe scared and he had reason to be.

 

Works Cited

BBC News. “India Profile – Timeline.” www.bbc.com. BBC, 23 Sept. 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12557384.

Dallas Morning News Editorial Staff. “Gandhi’s Idealism.” Dallas Morning News  [Dallas, Texas], 20 Sept. 1931, sec. IV, p. 6. America’s Historical Newspapers, infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/ ?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=Q6EL5CCQMTQ4MDQyNDIwNC40ODI1MTM6MToxMjoxMjguODMuNjMuMjA&p_action=doc&s_lastnonissuequeryname=6&d_viewref=search&p_queryname=6&p_docnum=1&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D21319BD1D300@2426605-104D2133809DF0B9@37-104D213D50D94037@Gandhi%27s%20Idealism. Accessed 29 Nov. 2016.

History.com Staff. “Stock Market Crash of 1929.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.  History.com Staff. “Stock Market Crash of 1929.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

John F. Knott Cartoon Scrapbook, [ca. 1930-1942], 1952, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Johnson, Ben. “John Bull, Symbol of the English and Englishness.” Historic-uk.com. Historic UK, 8 Sept. 2014. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/John-Bull/.

Lowry, Sam. “The Invergordon Mutiny, 1931.” Libcom.org. Libcom.org, 9 Mar. 2007. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. https://libcom.org/history/1931-invergordon-mutiny.

“Royal Navy History.” Royalnavy.mod.uk. Royal Navy, 2014. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/features/history-timeline.

Selden, Charles. “Disorder in the British Nave Follow Economy Pay Cut; Manoeuvers Are Cancelled.” New York Times (1923-Current file)Sep 16, New York, N.Y., 1931. http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/99307291?accountid=7118.

Simpson, John A. “well, adv. and n.4.” Def. P6. www.oed.com. Oxford University Press, Dec. 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.

Trager, James. “1931.” The People’s Chronology, 3rd ed., Gale, 2005. Gale Virtual Reference Library,  Accessed 29 Nov. 2016. go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3460601931&it=r&asid=b446869dc318d220d9663e0d9c575d74.

Wolpert, Stanley. “Gandhi, Mahatma M. K.” Encyclopedia of India, edited by Stanley Wolpert, vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006, pp. 119-125. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3446500239&it=r&asid=2b657833b7ab29e7e1e5fd3c8699f99d. Accessed 29 Nov. 2016.

Come Down and Be Organized

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At first glance we see a worker sitting a top a tower in what looks to be an oil field.  He is eating a sandwich and he looks pretty happy and content with his current situation.  At the bottom of the picture we have a more powerful man that looks as if he is angry with the worker.  The powerful man could be possibly yelling at the worker.  When we read the text given in the picture we see “East Texas Oil Fields” posted on the tower.  So we know that our location of this cartoon is most likely in East Texas.  Right next to the sandwich in the worker’s left hand says, “Liberal Wage” which could possibly mean that the workers are only getting paid enough to eat.  There is a bucket of food sitting next to the worker on the tower and the text next to that says, “Harmonious relationship with employers.”  As we look at the man at the bottom he is holding a paper that says “John L. Lewis” at the bottom and “C.I.O.” on the top.  We can assume that this man is in fact John L. Lewis.  The cartoonist John Knot does a wonderful job in this piece by simplifying what is going on and still creating a brilliant cartoon.

Let’s start with who John L. Lewis is.  John L. Lewis was considered to be one of the most powerful men in the U.S. during his time.  He was described as something of a maverick because he made sure that the CIO ignored sex, color, and race when it came to employing workers.  This persuaded women, immigrants, and blacks to join his new organization.  The CIO stands for the Committee for Industrial Organization.  This is an organization that helped changed our country in a great way.  This was somewhat a start to equality though at the time, equality was far for from being true.

The article that goes along with cartoon comes from The Dallas Morning News on April 4th, 1937.  The article entitled “Oil and the C.I.O.” states that it is the beginning of John L. Lewis’s committee’s plan to unionize a great East Texas oil field.  The writer expresses the worry of East Texas and Dallas workers that unionization or any attempt to unionize might prolong ongoing labor problems in the oil industry.  In the past, attempt to unionize has failed.  East Texas is a section of the C.I.O.’s plan to bring together 1,000,000 workers in its efforts to produce, transport, refining, and distributing petroleum.  The C.I.O. looks to be a good organization in creating jobs for East Texas residents.  There was no attempt made to match John L. Lewis’s competition by other companies.  The consequence, working with a field that has not been touched or worked on, and having inexperienced workers in the work force from the East Texas area.  The writer expresses his opinion on the possible hazard that workers would neglect and be late on signing up and paying their union dues.  The article in all shows that there are mixed feeling on whether East Texas oil fields should follow the path of unionization. In the grand scheme of things, John L. Lewis is attempting to make things more organized in East Texas.

As we can see from the article and the cartoon itself,  John L. Lewis has an agenda.  The cartoon is funny because it shows that John L. Lewis is growing impatient while East Texas workers just go about there day as if there is no need to be rushed or organized.  The cartoon’s depiction of John L. Lewis represents the C.I.O., John L. Lewis and his determination to execute the plans on his agenda.  The depiction of the man atop the tower in the field represents the East Texas community.  The community is not making it exactly easy for the C.I.O. to go about their plans.  When I look solely at the cartoon, I see a simple, uneducated looking man sitting atop an oil rig getting yelled at by an angry, powerful man.  It is just a funny site to see because it looks like a father yelling at his innocent child to get out of a tree.

The cartoon is entitled “Come Down and Be Organized.”  This is basically saying  that John L. Lewis wants East Texas to change and become unionized.  The C.I.O. believes that unionization is organization in a sense.  A big part of Lewis’s plan was to helping non-skilled workers through collective bargaining.  Some of these non-skilled workers were the people of East Texas.


Work Cited:

“The CIO and the Triumph of Unionization.” American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 4: 1930-1939. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

“The Cio, 1936–1938.” Social History of the United States. Ed. Daniel J. Walkowitz and Daniel E. Bender. Vol. 4: The 1930s. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2009. 196-216. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

“Oil and The C. I. O.” Dallas Morning News 4 Apr. 1937. NewsBank/Readex, Database: America’s Historical Newspapers. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/HistArchive?d_viewref=doc&p_docnum=-1&p_nbid=S53J5EFRMTQxNzQ3MTk1MS42NjgyMTQ6MToxMjoxMjguODMuNjMuMjA&f_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-10425511E33C878E@2428628-10425511EEFC6D5F@0&toc=true&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-10425511E33C878E@2428628-104255127303FD76@21-10425517179ED9FB>.