Tag Archives: Prohibition

John D. Does a Mural for Radio City

John D. Rockefeller Jr. painting a mural representing prohibition
John D. Rockefeller Jr. painting a mural representing prohibition

John D. Does a Mural for Radio City

John Francis Knott, October 26, 1933

As the Roaring Twenties swung by with economic prosperity, cultural dynamisms, and progressivism, the law of the land prohibited the use or sale of alcohol. As Public Policy, However, Prohibition was a complete failure. Illustrating this on October 26, 1933, John Knott published John D. Does a Mural for Radio City, a complex, controversial political cartoon exemplifying the government’s condemnation of prohibition and the liquor problem.

The complexity of the drawing mirrors that of the Prohibition conundrum; Knott presents the problem – the 18th amendment – with a dry barrel and a vacant saloon (Findlaw). The said amendment was placed in effect to eliminate alcoholism and lower crime; however, it was “not free from bootlegging and liquor control evasions” (The Liquor Problem). Noticeably, Uncle Sam, whose face is stern and displeased, suggests the nation’s dissatisfaction with the 18th amendment – Prohibition generated major political controversies and conflicts of interest in the country. Additionally, complete abstinence of alcohol caused a decline in tax revenues, a greater consumption of alcohol in Speakeasies, and corruption (History.com). According to Uncle Sam, the country required a solution.

Dissecting the cartoon further, Uncle Sam stares displeased at Lady Temperance, who forces an olive branch of peace and abstinence to the government. Many political groups believed alcohol was to blame for many of society’s problems including health problems, destitution, crime, and the overall destruction of families (PBS). Uncle Sam’s expression, however is dissatisfied, exhibits aloof towards Lady Temperance’s teetotalism. He believes that Temperance has caused destruction upon the country.

In the forefront of this cartoon, Knott places John D. Rockefeller Jr. as the artist of the problematic mural. Although the Rockefeller family supported the anti-saloon league and the temperance movement, Rockefeller personally “rejects the old license system and bone dry State prohibition [and] leans toward a State dispensary”(The Liquor Problem, Rockefeller). Therefore, Rockefeller commissioned the Fosdick-Scott survey to notify those in favor of the alcohol regulation. It stated, “Integrity and intelligence are of far greater importance than the administrative device” and reminded readers, “No dispensary system can exist when politics and graft handle it” (The Liquor Problem). The survey was a devise used to inform the public—providing a template for alcohol control (Serendipity). This controversial stance and survey of Rockefeller follows his controversial actions he displayed while constructing Radio City Music Hall (NPR). Humorously, Knott cleverly interjects the inappropriate mural removed by Rockefeller due to dissimilar visions between Rockefeller and renowned artist, Diego Rivera (New York Herald).

In summary, Knott exemplifies the country’s controversial liquor problem by illustrating Rockefeller’s position: America declines in social and economic status for each day held in prohibition. Exploiting Rockefeller’s views enlightens the public of Prohibition’s effects on the country. Although as controversial was his decision to remove Rivera’s mural, Rockefeller still painted the scenery to permanently end prohibition.


“Destroyed By Rockefellers, Mural Trespassed On Political Vision.” NPR. NPR, 9 Mar. 2014. Web. 05 Nov. 2015. <http://www.npr.org/2014/03/09/287745199/destroyed-by-rockefellers-mural-trespassed-on-political-vision>.

“Eighteenth Amendment – U.S. Constitution – FindLaw.” Findlaw. Thomson Reuters, n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2015. <http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment18.html>.

“The New York Herald.” New York Herald Tribune May 10, 1933. THE NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE, 10 May 1933. Web. 05 Nov. 2015. <http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ma04/hess/rockrivera/newspapers/NYHerald_05_10_1933.html>.

“Prohibition.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 05 Nov. 2015. <http://www.history.com/topics/prohibition>.

“Prohibition.” PBS. PBS, 2011. Web. 05 Nov. 2015. <http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/roots-of-prohibition/>.

Rockefeller, John D., Jr. “Note.” Letter to Nicolas Murray Butler. 6 June 1932. Http://www.drugpolicy.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2015. <http://www.drugpolicy.org/docUploads/RockefellerLetter1937.pdf>.

“Serendipity.” Serendipity. Merge Divide, 26 June 2007. Web. 05 Nov. 2015. <http://dgrim.blogspot.com/2007/06/great-scheme-alcohol-based-fuels-ford.html>.

“The Liquor Problem.” America’s Historical Newspapers. Dallas Morning News, 26 Oct. 1933. Web. 5 Nov. 2015. <http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/HistArchive?



What Now?!!


political cartoon picture 2
Uncle Sam’s political view on the Prohibition of Marijuana

Keith Tucker

As America ventures towards the legalization of marijuana, many political cartoonists boost their agenda by associating their political itinerary with American history. Specifically, Prohibition is widely used amongst cartoonist due to its well-known details and final 1930s decision that creates an easy analysis or similarity to the reader. Cartoonist, Keith Tucker, poses the controversial question, “what now?!!” to question America’s next step towards the legalization of marijuana.

Dr. Keith Martin states, “The “war on drugs” has done nothing to reduce illegal drug use, crime, harm, or cost.” Tucker compares prohibition to today’s marijuana problem. He portrays that the government’s decision to legalize marijuana will diminish the negative activities, which were caused by the prohibition of marijuana. He acknowledges, “Prohibition has failed [and] its time to legalize [marijuana] in America.” Similarly to those during the 1930s, he accents the effect that illegal marijuana has currently on the states – cost to the states and corruption – similar to the negative effects of the prohibition of alcohol (Martin). As Tucker lists the negative consequences, he implies the positive impact associated with the legalization of marijuana: cutting the cost to fight marijuana from the Country’s budget and the gain in tax dollars to stimulate the economy. He implies how States could tax the sale of marijuana as they do with alcohol and tobacco. For example, after Colorado legalized marijuana and implemented a tax, Colorado collected seventy million dollars in taxes after one year while alcohol only collected 42 million (Basu). This shows the significant advantage of ending the prohibition on marijuana. Ending prohibition of marijuana can save tax dollars that could be used in more beneficial ways to stimulate our economy. Additionally, the 21st amendment ended the major corruption associated with prohibition. Cartoonist, John Knott exposed the negative effects caused by prohibition in the cartoon John D does a Mural for Radio City. He claimed that America’s desire to eliminate the prohibition of alcohol decreased the number of bootleggers, speakeasies, gang violence, and other illegal activities (Van Essen). Similarly, the end of marijuana prohibition could dampen these social problems.

Tucker explicitly presents Uncle Sam stating, “It’s time to legalize it, America!” He notes that millions of American citizens have several uses for marijuana – from recreational uses to known medical value. Statistically, “over 94 million people in the US have admitted using it at least once (Marijuana).” So again, “what now?!!” Research has proved that the THC in marijuana helps with diseases such as multiple sclerosis, nausea from cancer chemotherapy, seizures, and Crohn’s disease (Feature). These various uses of marijuana tie back to tax profits, utilizing marijuana as a medical use may increase the total revenue collected.

In summary, Tucker highlights the progressive points that rise from dismissing the prohibition of marijuana. His title expressing, “what now?!!” is appropriate now as several states have legalized marijuana. Moving forward and following the history of the prohibition on alcohol, it seems as history may repeat itself with yet again another failed attempt on prohibition.


 Basu, Tanya. “Colorado Raised More Tax Revenue From Marijuana Than Alcohol.” Time. Time, 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <http://time.com/4037604/colorado-marijuana-tax-revenue/>.

Feature, Anne HardingWebMD. “Medical Marijuana Treatment Uses and How It Works.” WebMD. WebMD, 04 Nov. 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/features/medical-marijuana-uses>. 

“Marijuana Statistics – Cannabis Use Statistics – Drug-Free World.” Marijuana Statistics – Cannabis Use Statistics – Drug-Free World. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/marijuana/international-statistics.html>.

Martin, Keith. “Decriminalize Pot, Destabilize Gangs.” Cannabis Culture. Cannabis Culture Magazine, 13 Apr. 2009. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <http://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2009/04/13/decriminalize-pot-destabilize-gangs>. 

Tucker, Keith. “What Now Cartoons Archives – by Keith Tucker.” What Now Cartoons Archives – by Keith Tucker. KTC@whatnowtoons.com, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <http://www.whatnowtoons.com/wnt_archives.asp?.

Van Essen, Dane. “John D. Does a Mural for Radio City.” Web log post. Ut Libraries Blog. University of Texas at Austin, 5 Nov. 2015. Web. 12 Dec. 2015. <http://blogs.lib.utexas.edu/nonaka/page/3/>