Nice Kitty, Nice Doggie is a political cartoon by John Knott depicting the rising tension between labor unions and industries during the Great Depression. Published in the Dallas Morning News in April 1937, this kitchen bout contextualizes the Hershey Pennsylvania Strike of 1937 between peaceful union workers protesting for their right to unionize, while Frances Perkins, the US Secretary of Labor, mitigates between these two parties two with the enactment of Fair Labor Standards Act (Grossman 1).
In 1937 in the wake of civil unrest and growing unease with the American Economy, the workers at the Pennsylvania Hershey Chocolate Factory began to formulate their plan of strike. Just four months before the strike a note entitled “Chocolate Bar-B” circulated the factory. Signed by the Communist Party of Hershey, it brought attention to poor working conditions and highly encouraged them to unionize (De ‘Antonio 3). Furthermore, after owner Milton Hershey fired many workers without apparent reason, union leaders felt they were being punished for unionizing and decided to have no more. On April 2nd the strike began with the union president’s signal and over 600 workers abruptly stopped there. What they were doing was perfectly legal and they gave no reason for them to be forced out. Several days later Hershey sent a message to the protesters “Evacuate by 12 or face the consequences”. Workers did exactly that however as they began to exit the building disgruntled farmers and antiunion members that were affected by the strike attacked the protestors with clubs, bats, and pitchforks. Twenty-five workers, were severely beaten to the extent they had to be transported to the local hospital (Chocolate Workers 2).
John Knott cleverly and comically depicts each entity in this cartoon with specific and deliberate details. For example, the labors right to strike being depicted as a cat. The labors well thought out strike was almost cat like in the sense that they just sat their peacefully. With constant food coming to the protestors it gave them no reason to move from their place. They were able to just dwell in their spots.
Also Knott depicts the aggressor the Industries right to operate as a dog. He brilliantly draws the dog with its teeth shown and claws out, pointy like the pitchforks they used to beat the protestors. Furthermore, unlike the cat with open eyes Knott draws the dog with x’s where his eye would belong. This could symbolize the dying industry of unorganized labor and the rebirth of unionized labor unions.
Lastly and what I believe most canny was John Knotts depiction of Frances Perkins. With a masters from Columbia and an extensive public service resume Frances Perkins was more than qualified to fill her position as Secretary of Labor. Frances Perkins was the first woman to ever be appointed to the United States Cabinet; she represented a milestone in American history (Frances Perkins 1). Still, John Knott uses a patronizing and misogynist tone when depicting her. John Knots bias is explicitly shown as he reduces her to the stereotype that women are expected to fit at the time; a housewife who is confined to the walls of her kitchen. Trying to get the pests underfoot to simmer down.
John Knotts Nice Kitty, Nice Doggy makes light of the tension between labor unions and industries during the Great Depression. It uses the imagery of a cat and dog fight to reveal the growing tension between industry and labor unions. Furthermore, it uses obvious undertones to make fun of Secretary Frances Perkins. The political cartoon serves to comment on how this outbreak at the Pennsylvania Chocolate Factory is a significant event for the unionizing movement during the Great Depression.
Going against the wishes of the League of Nations, Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini and his italian army invaded Ethiopia in an effort to gain an advantage in the imperialistic race Europe found itself in at the time. This increased tension between Italy and other members of the League of Nations, particularly England and France.
In the Knott cartoon, a man is dressed in Ancient Roman robes and a laurel wreath. He is labeled as Mussolini and Caesar. Mussolini rides a horse drawn chariot through the street under an arch labeled “Roma”, surrounded by an enormous crowd and people leaning out of windows waving flags. The design of the town is evocative of ancient Rome. Being marched behind him, attached to the chariot by the neck with a rope, is a bedraggled black man wearing nothing but a large barrel, labeled Ethiopia.
This cartoon references the Italo-Ethiopian war, an armed conflict which was one of the leading causes to world war II and ended in the subjugation of Ethiopia by the Italian forces.One of the reasons for this conflict was imperialism. Before World War I, European countries were racing to colonize Africa — this competition was a major inciting factor for the war. One of the reasons for the creation of the league of nations after the war was to settle disputes between nations and avoid further war. They pushed for the disarmament and demilitarization of nations involved in the first war in an effort to seek and maintain peace. However, during this time Benito Mussolini and his movement of fascism rose to power in Italy. He became Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 and focused on the expansion of the Italian military forces. By the late 1930s, he had used his military to invade Libya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Albania, making Italy a force to be reckoned with in the Mediterranean area.
The Italo-Ethiopian war was a significant one of Mussolini’s conquests. Ethiopia was one of the few independent countries in the European colonized continent; Italy had tried and failed to acquire it as a colony in the late 19th century. A small border conflict between Ethiopia and the Italian controlled Somalia gave Mussolini the justification for invading Ethiopia. The rationale was that Ethiopia was to be held accountable for the conflict, but the real motive was to gain the resources and boost Italian prestige.
This was exactly what the league of nations wanted to avoid. It denounced Italy’s invasion and tried to impose economic sanctions on Italy, but it was ultimately ineffective due to lack of support. The conquest of Ethiopia angered the british, who had colonized East Africa and worried about maintaining their control, but other major powers had no real reason to interfere with Italy. Supporting the rise of fascism within Europe, this war contributed to the tensions between fascist regimes and western democracies.
Equally important to understanding this political cartoon is the reference to Julius Caesar. The ancient politician and eventual dictator of Rome bears similarities to Mussolini: both were ruthless Italian dictators bent on expanding Italy’s control through military force and who were eventually killed by those who opposed them. Although in the present day we know of Mussolini as a dictator, at the time the cartoon and editorial were published that was up for debate, as he was still accumulating power. By likening him to Caesar, someone historically known as a tyrant, Knott made a strong political statement about the ethics of Mussolini’s conquests. This is further emphasized by the title of the cartoon, “Suggestion for Historical Mural”. Murals are a large, public, accessible artform. Since they reach such a wide audience, they have the capability to sway public perception. By suggesting that this unflattering depiction of Mussolini be a historical mural, Knott is making a statement about the way he wants history to remember Mussolini.
The cartoon shows Mussolini on top of a chariot, crowned with a laurel wreath, while the Ethiopian man is dragged below by the neck, wearing only a bucket. Mussolini’s stature is one of power: he is in possession of technology that allows him to be swifter and stronger, he stands above the other man, and he wears a crown that is symbolic of victory. Meanwhile, the barrel the Ethiopian man wears signifies destitution, and the rope around his neck helplessness. Mussolini and his army reign over Ethiopia with formidable strength, and this is reflected in the positions the people in the cartoon find themselves in.
The editorial accompanying this cartoon is titled “A Hot Time in the Old Town”. This title is drawn from a popular song from the time period of the same name, “A Hot Time in the Old Town” (also referred to sometimes as “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” after a memorable refrain in the chorus) composed by Theodore A. Metz in 1896. This march was popular in the military, associated with the Spanish American war and Theodore Roosevelt’s rough riders. Although the song was created before the 20th century, a popular rendition of it was recorded in 1927 by Bessie Smith, a notable singer of the era. This would have made the song a relevant reference in the 1930s, when the editorial was written. In regards to the article, the “hot time” would be the conflict between Italy and Ethiopia, and the “old town” would be a reference to Rome, a city in Italy with an ancient history of conquest, and fits in with the parallels the cartoon draws between Ancient Rome and Italy during the 1930s. The fact that this song was popularized with the military emphasizes the militaristic nature of the conflict in Ethiopia, drawing attention to the fact that Italian armed forces were sent in to occupy Ethiopia.
By equating Mussolini with the tyrant Caesar and showing him subjugating the Ethiopian man, Knott draws attention to the situation between Italy and Ethiopia, as well as making it clear he believes Mussolini is a dictator wrongfully conquering Ethiopia.
In late January, President Barack Obama presents a federal budget proposal that would exceed restricted spending caps mandated by congress four years ago. This proposal includes new capital gains, bank taxes, and a new tax on american companies competing in world markets. The political cartoon was posted on January 2nd, 2015, prior to the announcement on Obama’s budget proposal, titled Bloated Government. It is shown and predicted by the cartoon artist, Steve Breen, that Obama voices his want to cut back on government spending but those are not his actions. Barack’s new proposal could cause the government to become further bloated, untiqued, and unresponsive to taxpayers, and that is exactly what the GOP would like to avoid. The cartoon strongly and correctly predicted that Obama would spend more rather than cut back on government spending, just as was seen previously through FDR’s term in office.
President Barack was never actually known for cutting back on costs. In his plans to cut taxes, extend unemployment benefits, fund job-creating public works projects, and increase defense spending, he added $6.167 trillion to the national debt, which is a fifty-three percent increase, in only six years. So far the national debt is building up like an enormous snowball. Today’s taxpayers and future generations face massive indebtedness, while congressional democrats and current administration(Obama) block every attempt to turn things around.
In Steve Breen’s cartoon, Bloated Government, there is a rather large, and heavy set man sitting on the left side of the counter, concluded to be the customer. This obese man is labeled “gov’t” to symbolize the nation’s government currently and how bloated it is. On the counter there is a large bowl, uncommonly huge for the size for a regular bowl of ice cream. The bowl is filled with more than eight bananas, dozens of ice cream scoops of assorted flavors, all drizzled in chocolate, foamed over with tons of whipped cream, and a cherry to top it off. Not your average cup of tea, or rather, bowl of ice cream. This bowl happens to be labeled “spending” to symbolize how great the national government’s spending is and common it has become for it to be that much. On the right side of the counter there are two thin men dressed as the ice cream servers. One man symbolizes Barack Obama, having the same characteristics. “You need to cut back so we withheld the sprinkles,” Obama says in the cartoon. All, put Steve Breen is depicting in his illustration that Obama says he wants the government to cut back on spending but in his actions he does not show that. All that government spending might anger, or already is angering taxpayers, republicans, and congress.
Although Barack’s proposal was likely to get prevented from making progress in congressional opposition, he did not give up. The budget is down to pre-financial crisis levels, and the president will seek approval to break through spending caps. This will play out to be more spending and more debt. After hearing the proposal Senate Orrin G. Hatch says, “He is the most liberal, fiscally irresponsible president we’ve had in history. I don’t know why he doesn’t see it. You’re facing a debt crisis not because Americans are taxed too little but because the government spends too much.” Obama’s plans represent roughly seven percent increase in 2016 government spending. To his credibility, Obama basically inherited a terrible financial crisis that was the worst that our economy has sustained since The Great Depression. Looking in the past, because of his policies the economy has come roaring back.
The resemblance is existent between President Obama term and FDR’s, just as the likeness of Steve Breen’s political cartoon and John Knott’s. Knott’s cartoon, Nice Work!, portrays the Director of the Bureau of Budgetary, Lewis Douglas, as a hard working man trying to cut down the national budget. In Breen’s cartoon, Bloated Government, Obama is seen “trying” to cut back on government spending. During FDR’s term in office, Lewis Douglas worked hard to cut down the national budget so that the government would not spend as much and taxpayers would remain contempt. FDR went along with Douglas’ plans until he showed his true colors and downplayed efforts to cut costs and balance the budget causing Douglas’ role to diminish. Likewise with Obama, he himself voiced that he needed to cut back on government spending. Not only did he go over the projected budget, but his proposal requests to spend even more. Unlike FDR, Obama worked with congress in order to help the economy. Congress on October 21st, 2015, moved a step closer to clearing a bipartisan budget deal that would boost spending for domestic and defense programs over two years while suspending the debt limit into 2017. The agreement would essentially end the ongoing budget battles between congressional republicans and President Obama by pushing the next round of fiscal decision making past the 2016 election when there will be a new congress and White House occupant. Obama and FDR have both set up the national budget situation for the president to come and take over. The next president will then also have political cartoons to be depicted in during their term.
Snell, Kelsey. “House Passes Budget Deal; Senate Expected to Act Soon.”The Washington Post. N.p., 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Mufson, Steven, and Juliet Eilperin. “Obama Budget Proposal Would Boost Spending beyond ‘Sequestration’ Caps.” The Washington Post 29 Jan. 2015, Business sec. Fred Ryan. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Mervis, Jeffrey. “Budget for 2016 Accentuates the Practical.” Science Mag 6 Feb. 2015: 599-601. Print.
Amadeo, Kimberly. “Which President Added Most to the U.S. Debt?”About.com News & Issues. Neil Vogel, 14 July 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Amadeo, Kimberly. “Which President Added Most to the U.S. Debt?”About.com News & Issues. Neil Vogel, 14 July 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Crew, Clyde. “Obama’s 2016 Federal Budget And Middle Class Economics.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Breen, Steve. San Diego Union-Tribune 2 Jan. 2015: n. pag. Print.
Following World War I, Germany was asked to pay reparations to Britain and France; however, Germany was reluctant given the staggering sum requested and the inevitable financial distress associated with paying such reparations. Germany’s reparation bill seemed so incredibly outrageous that it was almost impossible for the struggling country to pay for the large sum (Schuker, 542) . A 1931 Los Angeles Times article supported the notion that, “Germany [would] simply not pay, [because] no party and no government…willing to agree to payment [could] possibly stay in power” (“Germany and Reparation”, 4). At the same time they also accumulated a large amount of international debt. Consequently, the public lost faith in the German currency, and hyperinflation took over the country. In 1931 the German government battled high unemployment, plunging farm income, and political unrest as economic depression enveloped the country. To combat the deflated currency and economic distress, Germany continued to borrow capital and placed a massive strain on its banks. The German debt spiraled to an unsustainable level while debtors became increasingly concerned about recovering their capital. It was important to note that forty percent of those debts were owed to Americans (Fearon, 510) . By the summer of 1931, the banking system of Germany began losing when “Germany introduced exchange controls and froze foreign-owned credits, [which made] it impossible for US citizens to withdraw their capital (Fearon, 510). Similarly, that consequential loss of economic confidence could also be traced back to modern economic dilemmas, such as the 2008 Credit Crisis (Stewart). Those measures set the stage for heated foreign relations and an international credit crisis, because most countries were occupied with their own domestic economic difficulties in the midst of The Great Depression.
The 1933 editorial in The Dallas Morning News, “Panic or Prosperity,” underscored the bleak economic outlook for the world and emphasized the necessity for international cooperation to resolve the crisis. “Panic or Prosperity” explicitly highlighted a suggestion for an international conference on debt as recommended by Great Britain, “in order to restore confidence and credit relations among the states of the world” (“Panic or Prosperity”, 2). The editorial also articulated concerns regarding restrictions on the war debt revisions due to the Hoover Moratorium. The Hoover Moratorium was a proposal by President Herbert Hoover to postpone all intergovernmental debt payments and reparations, excluding governmental obligations held by the general public (Fearon, 511). The moratorium was an attempt to alleviate some of the financial turmoil and depression that plagued Germany due to their massive debt after World War I (Robinson, 456).
“Panic or Prosperity” claimed that the ratification of the moratorium would hinder war debt revision as well as the global discussion required for effectively combating the German credit crisis. The article supported its plea for international collaboration by referencing the thoughts of world-renowned economist, Sir George Paish of England, who predicted, “a speedy breakdown in world credit [would occur] unless an international conference is held” (“Panic or Prosperity”, 2). Moreover, there was concern that the strong financial interdependence between nations would serve as a catalyst for global economic decline. Reliance on the stability of other foreign nations directly impacted the economic condition of the United States. Such economic dependence rendered the U.S. more vulnerable to the Great Depression due to international instability and the inability to withdraw U.S. capital from Germany. Accordingly, Germany left other nations susceptible to poverty, unemployment, and overall economic instability. The editorial concluded that passing the moratorium and ignoring the need for an international debt conference could have dire consequences. Such actions, therefore, should not be viewed from an isolationist perspective since putting the needs of a single country or political party above the collective need for international collaboration would result in global economic chaos.
An accompanying political cartoon by John F. Knott, “Urgent Letter to Santa Claus”, illustrated personification of the globe writing a letter to Saint Nicolas and demanding the receipt of credit. The sketch alluded to the growing tension amid world powers in 1931 and their impatience with Germany for causing an international credit crisis.
In his cartoon Knott highlighted these grievances against Germany and their freeze on global credit by addressing the problem to Santa Claus. The depiction of Santa Claus, universally known as a giver of gifts during Christmas, was incorporated within the illustration. The cartoon itself was drawn around the time of the holiday, a season that is known to encourage thoughts of generosity and hope. The character of Santa Claus or Saint Nicolas originated from Germany, therefore, it can be assumed that the cartoon was directly addressing Germany.
Worldwide dissatisfaction with the international credit freeze was apparent as the primary figure of the cartoon clearly expressed frustration with the international financial situation. Likewise, Knott’s use of “…or else” sardonically pokes at the destructive financial consequences following Germany’s actions in the summer of 1931 (“Panic or Prosperity, 2).
Furthermore, Knott illustrated the deteriorating nature of the financial condition within the U.S., depicted by broken windows, tattered clothing, and lack of shoes on the character. The use of these details emphasized the poverty and economic collapse that followed the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression era (Mcelvaine, 151).
Upon closer examination of Knott’s work, there was also a juxtaposition of the scribe with a lower body which resembled a young boy, while his hands were seemingly aged. The depiction of the adult hands stressed the seriousness of the message and the threat of “or else”—i.e., the dire consequences of the credit crisis. The kid-like aspects of the cartoon suggested a needy world looking, as children do, towards Santa to deliver wishes. Through this contrast, Knott implied that even though the world powers were delivering a serious message to Germany, their requests could come across as foolishly desperate.
The congressional vote on the Hoover Moratorium was set to occur within days of the cartoon’s publication. Accordingly, even the title, “Urgent letter to Santa Claus”, conveyed the pressing nature of the topic. As a final attempt to alter the impending ratification of the Hoover Moratorium, the cartoon directly addressed the readers of TheDallas Morning News as well as Congress to carefully consider the consequences of passing the bill.
John Knott’s, “Urgent Letter to Santa Claus”, directly addressed the plummeting financial circumstances of countries directly involved with the debt that Germany owed. Knott acknowledged the frustration with Germany and the poverty and instability caused directly by their actions. As a way of combating the destruction created by Germany, Knott drew attention to the matter to fight for future economic restoration.
Both the editorial “Panic or Prosperity” and John Knott’s cartoon, “Urgent Letter to Santa Claus”, directly addressed the need to reconsider the consequences of passing the Hoover Moratorium. Knott’s cartoon placed the blame for the declining international economies on Germany and suggested that the primary solution to the problem was to coerce Germany to unfreeze repayment of foreign credit. Meanwhile, “Panic or Prosperity” highlighted that the true means of repairing the economic destruction would occur solely through international cooperation rather than isolationist actions. Differences aside, the two sources agreed that immediate action was required to restore the deteriorating financial situation and prevent further damage to the world economy.
“Panic or Prosperity.” Editorial. Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 21 Dec. 1931, 82nd ed., sec. 2: 2. Print. <http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/HistArchive?d_viewref=doc&p_docnum=-1&p_nbid=U50X50WDMTQ0OTk1NjYwOC44ODgyODQ6MToxMjoxMjguODMuNjMuMjA&f_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D22155F61DF68@2426697-104D221569F70FFE@0&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D22155F61DF68@2426697-104D22159BA346A4@9-104D2217C3412E7A>
Knott, John F. “Urgent Letter to Santa.” Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 21 Dec. 1931, 82nd ed., sec. 2: 2. Print.
Robinson, W. A. “Moratorium, Hoover.” Dictionary of American History. Ed. Stanley I. Kutler. 3rd ed. Vol. 5. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003. 456. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.
Schuker, Stephen A. “World War I War Debts.” Dictionary of American History. Ed. Stanley I. Kutler. 3rd ed. Vol. 8. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003. 542-543. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.
“War Reparations.” World History Encyclopedia. Ed. Alfred J. Andrea and Carolyn Neel. Vol. 18: Era 8: Crisis and Achievement, 1900-1945. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC- CLIO, 2011. 439-441. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.
FEARON, PETER. “International Impact of the Great Depression.” Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. Ed. Robert S. McElvaine. Vol. 1. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. 510-516.Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.
MCELVAINE, ROBERT S. “Causes of the Great Depression.” Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. Ed. Robert S. McElvaine. Vol. 1. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. 151-156.Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
“GERMANY AND REPARATIONS.” Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File): 1. Jan 12 1932. ProQuest. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.
Stewart, Heather. “We Are In The Worst Financial Crisis Since Depression, Says IMF.” Editorial. The Guardian. N.p., 9 Apr. 2008. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.
This political cartoon depicts the reaction of the public towards President Franklin Roosevelt’s effort to involve foreign powers in the attempt to balance the budget and end the Great Depression. A major factor of budget depletion was the New Deal, a political effort to aid the economy in order to end the Great Depression. Implementation of the New Deal began in 1933, during President Roosevelt’s first three terms. The New Deal consisted of programs whose goals concentrated on relief from economic depression. For example, the Civil Works Administration (CWA) was formed in order to create jobs for the unemployed and the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) worked to helped farmers.
However, some of the public doubted the New Deal due to a fear that the government was spending more money than they could gain, therefore causing the nation to plummet further into debt. This idea is supported in ‘Balancing the Budget’, the editorial that is partnered with this particular political cartoon. In this editorial, the unnamed author also suggested that the New Deal and other reform programs might only be beneficial if President Roosevelt could proceed with his threat to “cut off outgo from the Treasury”, thus limiting debt incurred by reform and relief programs. However, in the eyes of the public, this action could give more power to the President, contributing to the popular opinion that the New Deal only increased the power of the federal government, taking the power away from the people.
The most prominent feature of the political cartoon is the individual dressed in traditional Scottish garments, who is the ‘New Member’, or addition to Roosevelt’s cabinet. Upon further research, this individual is revealed to be Ramsay MacDonald, the British Prime Minister in 1933. Ramsay MacDonald met President Roosevelt in Washington in order to plan The World Economic Conference of 1933, a summit of the major economic powers in order to discuss methods in which they can deal with the worldwide Great Depression. However, President Roosevelt ended the conference early for an unknown reason, and thus no solution to the Great Depression was found.
This political cartoon conveys the opinion of the public: that Roosevelt had a risky dependence on aid from overseas. Ramsay is depicted to be carrying papers that proclaim, “Billion $ saved in Gov’t Expense”, thus demonstrating the belief of the public that the methods of Ramsay MacDonald aimed to benefit the federal government rather than the American people. The public may also have of been mistrustful of Ramsay MacDonald because he had roots in a Marxist society, which contrasted the capitalism of the American government. Moreover, Ramsay MacDonald was then a part of the minority labour government, which advocated fiscal conservatism, a policy that only threatened to worsen the Great Depression by focusing on saving the government money.
The main objective of this political cartoon focuses on influencing popular opinion, yet humorous intentions may be derived through irony and satire. Irony is primarily represented through the idea that the United States had received their independence from Britain not 150 years prior to this time period, and yet the American government seemed to be reconnecting with the powers that had once been the enemy. This notion contributed to the tensions among the public and the mistrust in Ramsay MacDonald’s meddling in the government. Irony is further represented in modern times, where the New Deal may be regarded as one of the greatest government reforms, yet in 1933, citizens may have been dubious of the outcome of reform programs and distrustful of the government’s intentions. Satire is represented in the traditional Scottish clothing that is worn by Ramsay MacDonald in the political cartoon. The clothing makes the individual seem out of place and distinctive. However, due to the mistrust that was instilled in the minds of Americans during the American Revolution, the distinctiveness of this individual in the cartoon may be represented in a negative, derisive light. Satire is emphasized when it is considered that despite the efforts of the New Deal, the economic crisis was elucidated only during World War II, when defense spending helped the employment rate soar.
Lichtman, Allan J. “New Deal.” Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History. Ed. Robert H. Zieger. Vol. 5: Prosperity, Depression, and War, 1921 to 1945. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2010. 251-257. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
“The New Deal and American Society: Overview.” Social History of the United States. Ed. Daniel J. Walkowitz and Daniel E. Bender. Vol. 4: The 1930s. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2009. 49-50. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
“James Ramsay MacDonald.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2nd ed. Vol. 10. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 84-85. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
“America’s Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal.” Omeka RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.
Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Invitation to Ramsay MacDonald to Visit and Discuss the World Economic Situation.,” April 6, 1933. Online Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. 02 Dec. 2014.
Distinguished through his thought-provoking ideas and unique artistic abilities, John Francis Knott was a political cartoonist for the Dallas Morning News who illustrated more than 15,000 cartoons in his 50-year career. His work throughout the early 20th century focused much on presidential campaigns and wars of the time and attracted national and international attention. His cartoon “They Can’t Put Him in Jail for Trying”, published on March 22, 1937 equally centralized around the upcoming World War and America and Europe’s atypical relationship leading up to it.
Characterized by historians as a time of political and economic unrest, the 1930s was turbulent for nations worldwide. Coming out of the midst of the Great Depression, the United States was slowly starting to become financially stable again under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s leadership. Europe on the other hand became plagued with political crisis, with Adolf Hitler making plans to invade parts of Europe and Germany aligning itself with other strong nations, proving that a war was likely imminent. In an attempt to avoid an international feud, the United States, among other nations, called for a peaceful meeting to discuss the issues and try to extinguish tensions. This attempt is essentially what Knott illustrates in his cartoon.
“They Can’t Put Him in Jail for Trying” depicts two characters: a woman holding cannons, muskets, and other miscellaneous weaponry with the word “Europe” on her chest and a man in a car with “Good Neighbor Hull” on it asking the woman if she “want[s] a ride.” The woman in this piece clearly represents the nation of Europe preparing for war with Germany and the Axis Powers. The man is noted to be Cordell Hull, American politician and Secretary of State to Roosevelt who strongly advocated for the meeting between nations. Although the European people were in favor of peace, the men in power were not heeding Hull’s please for compromise. In the background of the illustration are two signs reading “Road to World Peace” and “International Trade” which Hull is gesturing towards as if suggesting this is where he plans to take the woman on the car ride.
The humor behind the illustration is derived from the criticisms of how both American leaders such as Hull and the European nations handled the proposition to meet peacefully. Specifically in the cartoon, Knott ridiculously has Hull offer to give Europe or European leaders a ride to the conference. Equally, signs advertising the benefits of meeting happen to line the road which Hull plans to take. Paradoxically, Knott unrealistically has the European woman carrying heaps of advanced weaponry and warfare machinery through the streets. Overall, the cartoon is Knott’s humorous depiction of Secretary of State Hull’s overt attempt to ask Europe for a meeting to discuss the issues at hand.
In a companion piece published alongside “They Can’t Put Him in Jail for Trying” entitled “Advice to Europe” Hull’s relationship and overall influence over European nations is better exemplified. The article touches on Europe’s hesitancy on taking advice from “a young upstart” like the United States, despite America’s wealth and political establishment. Ultimately, Europe considers aggression the only practical solution despite Hull’s or other nation’s appeals to handle the issue in a peaceful manner. The article even goes on to say that even someone with more power and authority than Hull would likely have an extremely difficult time in preventing the altercation from being resolved through violence or force.
Essentially, “They Can’t Put Him in Jail for Trying” by John Francis Knott humorously comments on the Secretary of State Cornell Hull’s proposition to Europe to settle differences in a peaceful meeting to avoid an international war. Although Hull’s proposal failed, Knott permanently etched the idea into history with his cartoon and remarked on the tense and confusing times leading up to the Second World War.
Uncle Sam (America) and Stalin (Russia) are viewed having tea as if they are old friends having a casual chat.
John Francis Knott – November 20, 1933
The political cartoon as viewed above is a direct reference to the sudden change in decision by Russia to eagerly collaborate in diplomatic relations with America. In order to understand the humor within the image, one must be aware of the historical evidence of the October Revolution (also commonly known as Red October) of 1917.
Vladimir Lennon, Leon Trotsky, and other Bolshevik Party members let the October Revolution in hopes of creating what is now known as the basis of Soviet Russia (Trotsky). Soon after the removal of Russia’s government and installation of the new, they refused to honor their debts to the United States as well as seize American property located in Russia (US Department of State). For the subsequent 17 years, America, as well as other foreign countries refused to interact with or recognize Russia as a country until years later. America also became the last Western country to identify Russia as a country. Meanwhile, Russia continued what it had been doing before the new Soviet government took over which was continue trade relations and act as if nothing ever happened, after all, what happened in Russia was not a problem the United States had to handle. In the early-mid 20th century, the United States was well-known to steer clear of intervening in the issues of other countries unless provoked by attack. Otherwise, The U.S. only focused on its own internal problems.
The political cartoon is accompanied with the article titled, “Normal Relations Resumed” which gives a semi-bias opinion of the situation. While the information is presented in a factual and objective manner, the author uses some words that indicate favoritism in one direction. For example, Knott adds in a few adjectives such as “great” before “Nation” when describing the importance of Russia being on friendly terms with America. Also, at points, the author bears his excitement through his choice of words: “renewed once again the friendly relations that had existed for so long between the United States and Russia” (Knott).
Throughout the article, there is an indication of opinion on how the author praises Roosevelt’s action for “recognizing Russia” (Knott). One can easily acknowledge the author’s support for Roosevelt who lists all the pros of becoming in good terms with Russia, but the risks are not mentioned. The picture mirrors this idea through Uncle Sam and Joseph Stalin.
The humor found in the cartoon itself is a satirical reference to the situation on how both countries see each other once they decided to have diplomatic relations. The two drinking tea is a symbolism for friendship as its common to invite someone over for a drink, lunch, dinner, etc., when the two are old friends or wanting to get to know one another. The people displayed on the picture are not so much a reference to the historical figures, but how the people of both countries reacted in such a friendly way towards each other in the aftermath.
It is important to note their physical appearances and gestures such as the certainty in their direct eye contact with one another. Uncle Sam is leaning forward smiling with his tea cup raised almost as if he is about to give a toast. Stalin, however, is much more stiff and it is uncertain whether he is smiling. This reflects the author’s perspective where he places much emphasis on how Americans see the new relationship (optimistic), but he fails to mention how Russia feels about America. Thus in the art he is uncertain how to portray Stalin (again, representation of Russia) and thus gives him a stiff pose that can be perceived in different ways.
Overall the scene depicts the two countries in the form of men who are drawn as carefree characters considerate and compassionate to one another. It makes fun of the fact that the countries can seem to be oblivious of the past and willing to let bygones be bygones.
BUDNITSKII, OLEG. “October Manifesto.” Encyclopedia of Russian History. Ed. James R. Millar. Vol. 3. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. 1087-1088. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
RABINOWITCH, ALEXANDER. “October Revolution.” Encyclopedia of Russian History. Ed. James R. Millar. Vol. 3. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. 1088-1096. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
RABINOWITCH, ALEXANDER. “October Revolution.” Encyclopedia of Russian History. Ed. James R. Millar. Vol. 3. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. 1088-1096. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
“Trotsky, Leon.” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Ed. David L. Sills. Vol. 16. New York: Macmillan, 1968. 155-158. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
United States. Government. Historian. Recognition of the Soviet Union, 1933 – 1921–1936 – Milestones – Office of the Historian. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
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