Category Archives: Fall 2014

Posts created during the Fall 2014 semester.

Giving Her a Lift to Town


"The Unemployed Woman"

The cartoon ” Giving Her a Lift to Town”, published in November of 1938, depicts the lifestyle of an unemployed woman during the 1930’s. Unfortunately, no matter how skilled a woman was, she was not an easy hire. However, Mrs. Roosevelt was doing all she could to bring light to the situation by creating Roosevelt’s Conference through which she strived to promote equal salaries and opportunities for both sexes. In the beginning of the year, a recession in the business world began, and the numbers for unemployment soared. By March, around 12,000,000 people, both male and female, were left without a job.

With so many people unemployed, the government attempted to supply money for a relief plan. In the article “the Unemployed Woman,” the author illustrates his frustration with this. If there is enough money to pay people, especially women, but no demand for a job, why can’t the unemployed be paid for the work they do at home? Shouldn’t household responsibilities be considered a career because of the time and effort women spend?

The humor within the cartoon is shown through the simpleness of the words depicted. The women of this time truly were “forgotten” because of the lack of attention surrounding their troubles with unemployment. One of the only people who showed support was “Mrs. F.R.” Her conferences brought together over 1,000 people fighting for a voice to be heard. Mrs. Roosevelt wanted people to understand that the fight for equal rights in the work place was as important as the war. In the cartoon, she is in a car trying to direct the woman to the town that clearly states “Jobs.” Without her help, the forgotten woman might not have been able to obtain a job, let alone arrive at  the place necessary for a job.

These years were not always the easiest for women, for they had to fight to be considered equal. Women’s rights were not common; therefore, a job was as equally rare. Enough money was able to be supplied for women to get paid minimum wage, but supplying the actual job to accompany the salary was the problem. Fortunately, in today’s society, women do not have this problem. They are equal to men in many ways, and with the right skills and necessities, can get the job of their dreams.


Mazzari, Louis. “Roosevelt, Eleanor (1884–1962).” The Jim Crow Encyclopedia. Ed. Nikki L.M. Brown and Barry M. Stentiford. Vol. 2. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008. 699-701. Greenwood Milestones in African American History. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.

By, AUBREY W. “TWELVE MILLION UNEMPLOYED: WHAT CAN BE DONE?” New York Times (1923-Current file): 109. Mar 27 1938. ProQuest. Web. 3 Dec. 2014 .

Knott, John F. “Giving Her a Lift to Town.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 22 November 1938: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 3 Dec. 2014

Author Not Listed. “The Unemployed Woman.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 7 Feb. 1932: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

Uneven Race

A penologist rushes to bring about prison reform but can't keep up with a car labeled "crime increase".
A penologist rushes to bring about prison reform but can’t keep up with a car labeled “crime increase”.

In the article “Small Prison Plants“, the author critiques the current state of the prison system, where overcrowding has led to inefficiencies in assigning classification to inmates in relation to their work and their placement with other criminals.  The root of the problem is that large prisons have grown out of necessity due to increased crime.  These issues have made it difficult to implement prison reform that has been suggested by penologists (penology being the study of the punishment of crime (Merriam Webster)).  One notable proposal by John P. McCaffrey involves the limiting of prison size to less than 500 men, with each unit intended to provide work to inmates in preparation for their return to society.  While costly to implement and estimated to take 25 years to complete, McCaffrey believes it to save money in the long run as crime is reduced.  However, the article points out that McCaffrey ignores the constantly increasing crime rate that would require prisons to be larger than proposed, though the reform would hopefully reduce crime and allow McCaffrey’s vision to be realized.

The cartoon “Uneven Race” satirizes the fact that reform can’t keep up with increased crime rate that makes prisons even larger and more unmanageable.  From 1925 to 1939, the number of prisoners per 100,000 citizens grew from 79 to 137, an increase of over 70% (  John Knott creates humor through use of metaphor that is relatable to a general audience.  While crime increase is represented by a car, symbolizing its relatively greater speed, the penologist is just a man, and obviously has no way of catching up to a moving vehicle.  This simplistic representation of a complex issue makes the discussion more accessible to readers, and that juxtaposition of different levels of complexity makes the cartoon humorous.  Also,  the situation depicted in the cartoon is comical, as anyone can tell you it is pointless to try to chase a speeding car.  While the cartoon is meant to make the issue more light-hearted, it also points out the grim reality of the situation at the time.  It seems that Knott doesn’t believe there is much hope in bringing about effective prison reform, at least if the “race” remains as uneven as it is at that point.  It is appropriate that the crime increase is not represented by a person but by an object, since it is an abstract concept that can difficult to stop or even slow down in the same way that a person could.

America had struggled before with maintaining proper prison conditions.  In colonial America, imprisonment was only temporary until the real punishment, usually fines, torture, or execution, were carried out.  The first long-term penitentiaries in Pennsylvania after the Revolutionary War were a new idea by Quakers meant to force criminals to reflect on their actions.  Around the same time, New York created similar facilities, and both cases focused on separating prisoners in working and living quarters to prevent them from corrupting each other, though New York accomplished this using a “silence system”.  Though harshly enforced, these methods were widely regarded as the most humane practices at the time.  As prison populations grew, however, the states in the north and east gave up on isolation of inmates.  Southern states often resorted to selling convicts to large-scale projects such as railroads and cotton plantations, working in harsh conditions not too different from slaves (it’s worth noting that their prison populations were disproportionately African American).  After a slow decline for fifty years, most prisoners didn’t perform income-producing labor by the 1920’s.  Unfortunately, this just made prisons even more overpopulated.  (For more information on the history of imprisonment in America, read “Prisons and Prison Reform“)

Just as prison overcrowding had been a problem before the article’s publication, it has remained so to this day.  Aside from brief declines during World War II and the Vietnam War, where crime-prone men often served in the military, prison populations have steadily increased in the decades since.  While the problems resulting from overcrowding that the article discussed have escalated since, another issue is the war on drugs.  An increased emphasis for politicians to be “tough on crime” has led to stricter laws and harsher punishments for criminals, especially for relatively victimless drug crimes.  These longer sentences result in even more crowded prisons, expanding the problems previously discussed.  In addition, funding has been focused more on law enforcement that further increases the incarceration rate, with less emphasis on treatment of drug addicts that could prevent crime in the future.  Fortunately, recent drops in crime rate have made the “tough on crime” stance less prominent in the public eye, providing hope for more effective prison reform to be implemented in the future.  (For more information on the current state of prisons, read “Prison Reform“)

As you can see, prison reform has been a slow and difficult process throughout America’s history, but there have believed and will continue to believe we can change our justice system for the better.


Works Cited


Knott, John. “Uneven Race.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 21 Mar. 1937, sec. 2: 10.
America’s Historical Newspapers. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.,. ‘Prisons: History – Modern Prisons’. N. p., 2014. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.,. ‘Penology – Definition And More From The Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary’. N. p., 2014. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.

“Prison Reform.” Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices. Ed. Roger Chapman. Vol. 2. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2010. 441-443. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.

“Small Prison Plants.” Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 21 Mar. 1937, sec. 2: 10. America’s Historical
Newspapers. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.

Yackle, Larry. “Prisons and Prison Reform.” Dictionary of American History. Ed. Stanley I. Kutler. 3rd ed. Vol. 6. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003. 476-479. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.

The New Member

The New Member, John Francis Knott: May 5th, 1933


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.


Kibitzer’s Advice

John Bull and Mussolini playing cards over a map of Europe with Lloyd George speaking to John Bull and telling him that Mussolini is bluffing.
John Bull and Mussolini playing cards over a map of Europe with Lloyd George speaking to John Bull and telling him that Mussolini is bluffing.

This cartoon refers to David Lloyd George’s call for Britain to take action against Italian aggression that was happening during the time.  The Italian and German fascist states had just begun their involvement in events that were building up to World War II, such as making and using forces to invade nations and interfering with foreign affairs.  Other countries were worried about what these involvements might turn in to if the situation was left unchecked, and Lloyd George wanted Britain to interfere with the fascist forces for this same reason, so he demanded the country to take action.  However, the cartoon is entitled Kibitzer’s Advice, and a kibitzer is a person whose advice is unwanted, so this suggests that Lloyd George’s call was largely ignored.  The reason Britain did not listen to Lloyd George’s advice was that Britain did not have much in the way of intervening due to the fact that they had been playing the pacifist role since the First World War.  This made it so that their arms were heavily depleted and taking any form of action appeared unappealing to the country.

The cartoon depicts Mussolini and John Bull playing a card game over the map of Europe, and David Lloyd George is telling John Bull that Mussolini is bluffing.  David Lloyd George was the Prime Minister of Britain during World War I and was instrumental in helping build up British arms for that war and Mussolini was the dictator of Italy and the face of fascism at the time.  John Bull is a comic personification of Britain, similar to how Uncle Sam personifies America so Lloyd George is depicted as talking to Britain and not just an individual.  John Bull and Mussolini playing cards refers to the saying that politics is a game and them playing over a table with a map of Europe means that their actions are going to be for the sake of changing or maintaining territorial boundaries of  Europe.  The “Bluffing” in this case refers to the belief that the fascist did not have the amount of force and arms that they claimed to have, so Britain had the opportunity to act against Mussolini.  Mussolini is depicted as the face of fascism in the comic instead of Hitler, because the Italian dictator had devoted much more forces in conflicts at the time while Hitler used less of his forces and was rather preparing his army for future aggression.

The accompanying editorial “Lion’s Tail” states two different Italian involvements at the time, aggression in Ethiopia and breaking the non-intervention agreement.  Mussolini used Italian nationalism and stated that he wanted to build Italy into an empire like it was in ancient Roman times to gather support from the people, so his aggression in Ethiopia was to help and acquire a foothold in Africa and prove that he was committed to the sake of Italy.  However, the situation scarred Mussolini’s image and brought to the attention of Europe that peace was fleeting for the time being.  The non-intervention agreement was created for the sake of the Spanish Civil War, so other nations would not interfere with the war; however, the agreement was known to eventually be a political farce.  This agreement was broken by many nations, especially the fascist nations who wanted the rebels to win so that a pro-fascist state would be set up in Spain and France would be between two fascist areas.

Some countries and citizens believed that the Italian and German forces needed to be halted, and David Lloyd George called for Britain to believe this as well and take action against the fascist.  However his cries to Britain for involvement in these issues were not heeded, the main reason being that Britain did not want another war on their hands, since the effects of World War I were devastating for many people. The article “Lion’s Tail” states that if Britain and France did interfere with the fascist in these conflicts and they were in fact not bluffing, there would be full scale war on their hands, but if Mussolini were to withdraw from Spain, then that would only reveal that he was bluffing and did not have the forces that he claimed to have.  Britain had been playing a pacifist role since the First World War, and the article says they were speaking softly since they did not carry a big stick and instead were in the middle of rearmament themselves.  This means that Britain was the one that needed to bluff since their forces were depleted not Italy who proved they had forces in the Ethiopian and the Spanish Civil War conflicts.  Britain was also one of the few nations to not break the nonintervention agreement.  All these factors, with the addition that Lloyd George was mostly not listened to by the people after he left office of Prime minister, makes it so that his message of Britain interfering against the fascist was largely ineffective to the mainly peace-loving population.  The “Lion’s Tail” article also states that even if Lloyd George played a large part in British decision making, they would still have the condition of not having the proper amount of forces.  This means that the author believed that the primary reason that Lloyd George would speak so much of fighting is because he was part of the opposition of Mussolini and not a policy maker.

The aggression that Italian and German forces showed during the time would escalate later and lead to the need of other nations to interfere.  Eventually Italy and Germany would team up with Japan in the East to create the axis powers against the Allies and would plunge the world into the Second World War.



Works Cited

Author not listed. “Lion’s Tail.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 27 Mar. 1937: n.pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

“Baldwin, Stanley (1867–1947).” Encyclopedia of World War II. Alan Axelrod. Ed. Jack A. Kingston. Vol. 1. New York: Facts on File, 2007. 146-147. Facts on File Library of World History. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

“Italy.” Encyclopedia of World War II. Alan Axelrod. Ed. Jack A. Kingston. Vol. 1. New York: Facts on File, 2007. 461-462. Facts on File Library of World History. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

“Lloyd George, David (1863–1945).” Encyclopedia of European Social History. Ed. Peter N. Stearns. Vol. 6: Biographies/Contributors. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2001. 195-197. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Knott, John F. “Kibitzer’s Advice.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 27 Mar. 1937: n.pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

“Mussolini, Benito (1883–1945).” Encyclopedia of the Modern World1900 to the Present. Ed. William R. Keylor. New York: Facts on File, 2009. 888-889. Facts on File Library of World History. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

“Spanish Civil War.” Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. Ed. John Merriman and Jay Winter. Vol. 4. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006. 2416-2424. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

“Please, Ring the Bell for Us”

John Knott's cartoon Visually depicts the indecision Congress faced in the debate of the Wagner-Rogers Bill.
John Knott’s cartoon Visually depicts the indecision Congress faced in the debate of the Wagner-Rogers Bill.

The cartoon, by Francis Knott, published in July of 1939, deals with the Wagner Rogers resolution to save 20,000 Jewish children from Nazi Germany. Robert Wagner was a senator of New York who called for the admission of 20,000 Jewish children from refugee camps in Europe. Edith Nourse Rogers, Republican of Massachusetts, who established a special quota for children less than 14 years old that would be spread over two years, presented Wagner’s bill to the House of Representatives. Wagner’s Bill rose in the wake of Kristallnacht (“The Night of the Broken Glass”). Where Nazi’s murdered over 400 Jews and burned down 300 synagogues. In response British and Dutch governments made provisions to allow several thousand Jewish refugees into their countries. This action inspired the introduction of the Wagner-Rogers Bill.

In February 1939, Senator Robert Wagner of New York and Representative Edith Rogers of Massachusetts introduced a bill that would grant special permission for 20,000 German children under the age of 14 to emigrate to the United States. The bill specified that the children would be supported privately, not by the government. The bill was designed to emulate Great Britain’s successful Kindertransport that brought 10,000 children to England. President Roosevelt never spoke a word of support for it. The Wagner-Rogers Bill died in committee. Its opponents argued that it was not right to separate children from their parents; others felt, among other things, that the children would grow up to be adults and might then take American jobs.

The article ‘A Question of Quota’ that accompanies this cartoon is a wholehearted approval of the Wagner-Rogers Bill. The article claims, “the country is asked to do an act of simple humanity in permitting non-quota admission of these children”. While also explaining that, “The number is so small that no serious economic upheaval can possibly be caused by their immigration.” In regards to legislation and quota the author states that “sensible immigration procedure now might well be to limit applications against the German Quota to the politically persecuted.” Though the author in regards to “refugee children, there is every reason in simple humanity to admit them now and respect no quota basis at all where they are concerned.”

The humor in this cartoon presents itself in a refined manner. Knott does this rightly so, as the subject of his cartoon is of a sensitive matter in dealing with the quality of children’s lives. Though refined, Knott still toys with American diplomacy as he shows congress, a man with large stature, overlooking children refugees pleading for his aid in opening the door to the us, that congress can only open. Knott’s intentions or goal for this piece was not to provide a humorous cartoon but rather shed light on America’s indecisiveness in providing humanitarian aid to refugee children. However, humor is till apparent as the title, “Please, ring the Bell for Us”, and the children refugees reaching for the door bell while look at congress for help. Knott utilizes the personified form of congress and the reality of European child refuges to further accentuate his memorandum through humor.

John Knott’s cartoon Please, Ring the Bell for Us accurately portrays the indecisiveness of Congress towards the Wagner-Rogers Bill. Though the bill never made its way to the floor of the House or Senate, due in part to amendments being made that would admit 20,000 children only if the regular German quota was reduced by a similar number. Thus, leading to the death of the bill. As the congressional debate over the Wagner-Rogers Bill became more and more apparent in the public eye, Knott pushed for further publicity through his Please, Ring the Bell for Us political cartoon.


Work Cited

Wyman, David S., and Rafael Medoff. “America’s Response to Nazism and the Holocaust.” Encyclopedia of American Jewish History. Ed. Stephen H. Norwood and Eunice G. Pollack. Vol. 1. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2008. 217-224. American Ethnic Experience. Gale   Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.

Robinson, Jacob, et al. “Holocaust: Responses.” Encyclopaedia Judaica.Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 9. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 352-379. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.

Dinnerstein, Leonard. “Jewish Immigration to the United States, 1938– 1946.” Anti-Immigration in the United States: A Historical      Encyclopedia. Ed. Kathleen R. Arnold. Vol. 1. Santa Barbara, CA:     Greenwood, 2011. 298-301. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web.    2     Dec. 2014.

The Young Generation

John Francis Knott March 25, 1937
John Francis Knott
March 25, 1937

The twentieth century was a time of change in the social mystique of sexuality and the private aspects of marriage. Boundaries were being broken and more people felt the need to lift the curtain on what seemed like the most personal and secretive of subjects. The prior Victorian era guarded sex very closely, keeping it very underground and behind closed doors. However, an evolving demographic of young people in the early twentieth century felt the need to bring sex back into the public spotlight. This would foster the growth of sexual education classes in colleges across the nation, angering those who still used religion to dictate sexual morality.

Vassar College, then an exclusively female university, began teaching one of the first sexual education and marital hygiene classes in the nation. Stemming from the influence of the students, the classes began in 1937, not without fair opposition. The Harvard Crimson, Harvard’s student newspaper, released “The Dance of the Seventh Veil”, an article critiquing Vassar’s new class. Claiming it to be against the grain and a “drastic step”, Harvard condemned and mocked Vassar for educating students on a topic meant for “closed doors” and “subdued whispers”.

The class had support in many areas of the country, including its coverage in the Dallas Morning News. In the article “where frankness pays”, the old ways of teaching the subject of sex are highlighted as outdated and unfit for the young people of the time. As “an important addition to marital equipment”, the article sees sexual education as a key facet of a healthy marriage and happy relationships in general. Furthermore, there is criticism of the piety of shrouding sex in “harem secrecy”, where such prudery was becoming archaic.

In addition to “Where Frankness Pays”, the Dallas Morning News also published John Knott’s political cartoon on the subject, titled “The Young Generation”. The cartoon features a mother hen named “Prudery” scaring her many small chicks into a pond called “The Facts of Life”. Its significance lies with the earlier view of sex as a very secretive part of life, only spoken of in whispers. The hen, towering over her chicks, represents the previous generations view of sex and marital privacy in this way. Forcing her chicks into the pond, they have no real experience and appear confused and disoriented. Analogous to young people, these chicks symbolize the manner in which new generations would learn about sex. Mostly thrust out into the world on their own, young people had to learn many “Facts of Life” themselves.

The humor of the cartoon lies with Knott’s depictions of the parties involved. The mother hen, an archetypal authority figure, clearly and cleverly represents the teachings of a now outdated post-Victorian demographic. The young generation, represented by the chicks, highlights the opposition they faced when attempting to remove the stigma surrounding sex and marriage. The chicks’ small size in comparison to their mother hen exemplifies this conflict between generations.

Through coverage in written media and political cartoons such as “The Young Generation”, John Knott and The Dallas Morning News served to support Vassar College’s effort to increase sexual education and bring the subject of prudery to the public eye.


Works Cited

“America’s Sex Hysteria.” American Decades Primary Sources. Ed. Cynthia Rose. Vol. 2: 1910-1919. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 347-351. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.

“THE DANCE OF THE SEVENTH VEIL | News | The Harvard Crimson.” THE DANCE OF THE SEVENTH VEIL | News | The Harvard Crimson. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014. <>.

“MAKING A GO OF IT” | News | The Harvard Crimson.” “MAKING A GO OF IT” | News | The Harvard Crimson. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014. <>.

Author Not Listed. “Where Frankness Pays.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 25 Mar. 1937: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.


Knott, John F. “The Young Generation.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 25 Mar. 1937: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <>.


How About a Little Reciprocity Neighbor?

The above image illustrates President Calles sending former President Calles into exile in the United States.
The above image illustrates President Calles sending former President Calles into exile in the United States.

In the political cartoon “Tragic Journey,” artist John Francis Knott conveys a humorous message to represent the political differences between Mexico and the United States at the time.

President of Mexico from 1934-1940, Lazaro Cardenas was characterized as a loved and heroic man. Cardenas was one of the first presidents to enact several reforms that truly followed the precedents established by the Constitution. He nationalized the oil industry in Mexico and initiated the spread of education, even cutting his own salary. These actions garnered the support of a majority of Mexican citizens.

In the cartoon, Cardenas is seen disposing of Plutarco Calles. Calles was established as president of Mexico from 1924-1928.However, during the years after his presidency he maintained his role as leader through puppet presidents. Throughout his presidency, Calles enacted reform on areas such as labor and social security strengthening the country as a whole. Despite Calles’s good deeds, his anti-Catholic sentiments triggered turmoil within the country. Due to Calles’s greed for power, Cárdenas had Calles exiled from Mexico. In a move cheered by most of the Mexican population, Calles was arrested on the night of April 9, 1936 and exiled to San Antonio, Texas. Cárdenas had proven that he had the will to do what needed to be done and the humanitarianism to spare the former president’s life. These attributes showcased Cardenas as strong political leader and genuine person

The cartoon depicts a grinning man with a large sombrero is depicted tossing several men titled “Calles et al” across a wall. “Et al” is a Spanish translation for “and others.” Thus it can be inferred from the cartoon that President Calles and his accomplices were being tossed across the wall. The sombrero is labeled with the name “Cardenas” offering us insight into the fact that the man is Cardenas Lazaro – the President of Mexico at the time. The cartoon shows a second man dressed in a polished suit and top hat, symbolic of Uncle Sam and the United States of America. Uncle Sam carries several men titled “fascist agitators” in the image. The wall in between the two men represents a wall between the two countries, Mexico and the United States. This wall is symbolic of the border that divides the two countries.

The accompanying article, “Tragic Journey” compares the constitutional practices held by the United States and Mexico. The author states that both countries have imposed a Republic, a form of government that’s role is to enforce a “Constitution, courts, and a guarantee of individual rights.” However, the author criticizes Mexico for its inability to implement its established form of government. He states that in the United States, the people would never be able to “send to death a single man” nor “order an American to leave the land of his nativity.” Despite Mexico’s role as a Republic, it does not follow the system clearly outlined by its Constitution. The author goes on to point out that despite the tedious process of courts and checks and balances in the United States, these processes are established for crucial reasons. These reasons include giving all citizens their respective individual rights they were guaranteed in the Constitution.

Knott exaggerates the exile of former President Calles by showcasing a rather large Cardenas tossing Calles aside, adding to the humor within the cartoon.  The artist mocks Calles by illustrating Calles as extremely small in size compared to Uncle Sam and Cardenas. In addition, humor in this piece arises in the title of the cartoon “How about a little reciprocity neighbor”. In the cartoon, President Cardenas is disposing of former President Calles across the border into the United States. However, Uncle Sam attempts to toss “fascist agitators” across the border to Mexico as well. The cartoon implies that if Cardenas is able to send his problems to exile in another country, the United States should be able to do so as well.

Overall, this cartoon sends a strong message in addition to its humor about the reciprocity of political actions between the United States and Mexico. Knott subtlety intertwines comedy and the political severity into a simplistic yet profound cartoon.

Works Cited

“Lázaro Cárdenas.” Historical Dictionary of Mexico. Marvin Alisky. 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2007. 299. Historical Dictionaries of Latin America 29. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

Hart, John Mason. “Revolution—Mexico.” Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History. Ed. William H. McNeill, Jerry H. Bentley, and David Christian. Vol. 4. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing, 2005. 1611-1614. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

“Cárdenas, Lázaro (b. 1895–d. 1970).” Encyclopedia of Latin America. Ed. Thomas M. Leonard. Vol. 4: The Age of Globalization (1900 to the Present). New York: Facts on File, 2010. 53-54. Facts on File Library of World History. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 4 Nov. 2014.

“Tragic Journey.” Dallas Morning News 13 Apr. 1936: Section II Page 2. Print.

“How About a Little Reciprocity Neighbor.” Dallas Morning News 13 Apr. 1936: Section II Page 2. Print.



They Can’t Put Him in Jail for Trying

“They Can’t Put Him in Jail for Trying” comments on pre-World War II interactions between Europe and Secretary of the State Cornell Hull.


They Can’t Put Him in Jail for Trying

John Francis Knott — March 1937

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.


Works Cited:

“Cordell Hull.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Knott, John F. “They Can’t Put Him in Jail for Trying”. Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 22 March 1937: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

Smitha, Frank E. “Crisis and War in Europe, 1937 to 1940.” Crisis and War in Europe, 1937 to 1940. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.

Woolner, Diane. “Repeating Our Mistakes: The “Roosevelt Recession” and the Danger of Austerity.” Roosevelt Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2014.


Too Far Apart

John Knott’s illustration depicts a sick, middle-income American staring up at a building with the words “high-class income” inscribed on its side.

The political cartoon Too Far Apart offers a comedic yet eye-opening perspective on the imbalanced distribution of healthcare during the Great Depression. The Great Depression devastated the middle class, further excluded the lower class, and ruined the lives of several members of the upper class. Many Americans lost their jobs, and droughts across the country caused many farmers to lose their major source of income. This drastic spike in the poverty rate led to a significant decrease in the quality of healthcare received by the public. Furthermore, many impoverished citizens were unable to consistently eat and this made them more susceptible to the various illnesses that were prevalent during the 1930s. Many children suffered from rickets (a disorder that stems from a lack of Vitamin D, phosphate, or calcium) and since there were many areas that didn’t have running water, a large number of people became ill from the constant spread of germs. Physicians often found themselves unable to handle the sudden influx of unemployed and underprivileged patients, and this eventually created a gap in the quality of healthcare Americans received.

The article that complements this cartoon, titled ”The Medical Problem”, aims to provide insight on the medical issue from the perspective of the many physicians that were working during the Great Depression. The article claims that much like the majority of citizens, many doctors were negatively affected during the Great Depression. Countless physicians were being overworked and did not receive any compensation for their efforts. Additionally, many unemployed Americans that were unable to afford medical care were under the assumption that doctors failed to understand their troubles and doctors eventually began to feel the same way about the American populace. The article also pessimistically analyzes several proposed solutions to the medical problem that was prevalent during the Great Depression. The author repeatedly asserts that doctors and American citizens were “unable to agree” on a way to ensure that Americans received quality healthcare and that doctors were equitably salaried. However, agreement on a solution was not a simple task. The author highlights the complexity of the medical crisis by saying that it was a “many-sided problem” and that “even the soundest medical thinking has difficult cross-currents”.

Too Far Apart, a political cartoon drawn by John F. Knott, accurately illustrates the rift that was created between upper class healthcare and middle class healthcare. According to “Poverty in America: An Encyclopedia”, “public-relief programs enjoyed widespread support” during the Great Depression. For example, many middle-income Americans (income of $150 to $424) heavily relied on the Work Projects Administration (WPA) to supply them with medical care. The WPA did what they could, but they often lacked the proper facilities to treat their “3.5 million patients”. However, families that were considered to be financially comfortable (income of $425 and up) were, on average, able to pay for medical care 45.9 percent of the time. Middle-income families were only able to pay for medical care 18.8 percent of the time. This meant that many of these families (31.4 percent) were forced to rely on the free programs that were being offered through Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Knott’s cartoon exemplifies this fact by showing an ill and hopeless man lying in a bed with the words “medium income sickness” inscribed on the blanket. The man is looking up towards a rather large building with the words “first class medical care” etched on its side. The fact that the man in the medium income bed is unlikely to ever be able to reach the first class medical building that is not only physically separated from him but also metaphorically separated implies that there was indeed an issue that needed to be resolved and that many unlucky, downtrodden, and sick Americans were suffering due to the lack of a solution.

The humor in this cartoon is particularly subtle. Neither the character nor the environments in this cartoon are drawn in an exaggerated form. Knott undoubtedly choose this realistic style to illustrate the seriousness of the medical problem that affected millions of Americans during the Great Depression. Knott’s goal for this cartoon was not to make people laugh. He instead aimed to inspire thought amongst his viewers. However, this cartoon does contain some humor. Many viewers of this cartoon could probably relate to the man in the bed since millions of Americans were either unemployed or unable to pay for topnotch medical care. Knott takes advantage of the human capacity to empathize with another individual or situation in an effort to further emphasize to his message through humor.

John Knott’s cartoon Too Far Apart accurately captures the despondent attitude many Americans had towards the medical industry during the Great Depression. Many families could not afford decent medical care and they were forced to rely on public-relief programs whenever they became ill. Various solutions were drawn up but because of the disparity between the ideals of doctors and patients, there was never any agreement. These numerous disagreements created a gap between the health care received by the upper class and middle class. As this gap became increasingly apparent, journalists and artists like John Knott yearned to expose this problem and one impactful result of this desire was the political cartoon Too Far Apart.

Works Cited

“Great Depression.” Poverty in AmericaAn Encyclopedia. Russell M. Lawson and Benjamin A. Lawson. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008. 61-65. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.

“The Human Impact of the Great Depression.” The Human Impact of the Great Depression. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2014. <>.

“Health Conservation and WPA – Social Welfare History Project.” Social Welfare History Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <>.

Perrot, George St. J. “Medical Care during the Depression: A Preliminary Report upon a Survey of Wage-Earning Families in Seven Large Cities.” NCBI. N.p., Dec. 2005. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <>.



A Timely Shower Down on the Farm

"A Timely Shower Down on the Farm;" depiction of a farmer and his family looking up to a rainy sky. The cloud has the words "Soil Conservation" in it, while the words "$500,000,000" are in the rain. The farmer says, "The soil sure needs it."
Knott’s cartoon predicts the effects of the Soil Conservation Bill on the farmers that it will assist.

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.


Works Cited:

“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.