Category Archives: Fall 2014

Posts created during the Fall 2014 semester.

The Dread Contagion


The political cartoon “The Dread Contagion” depicts the American community attempting to reach out and offer the Good Neighbor Policy to those in the Eastern hemisphere.

This cartoon was created during the time period of the late 1930’s, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was president.  This was the era of the Great Depression, in which the American economy declined drastically after a crash in the stock market in 1929 with statistics such as a rise in unemployment rates from 8 to 15 million as well as a GDP that had decreased from $103.8 billion to $55.7 billion (Great Depression). During this decade, FDR was elected president in 1933 and began what he called the New Deal, which was “a series of economic measures designed to alleviate the worst effects of the depression, reinvigorate the economy, and restore the confidence to the American people” (New Deal). Through usage of the media, such as radio and television, FDR was able to bring back the confidence in the depressed democratic community who began fearing that institutions such as fascism and communism could possibly be better than their own. One of the biggest policies that branched from the New Deal, was the Good Neighbor Policy.

The Good Neighbor Policy is essentially what it says, the nation being a good neighbor to its neighboring countries. Roosevelt’s ideal was to “dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others,” in order to better his relationships with the Latin American countries as well as the eastern hemisphere countries (Carlsen). The Good Neighbor policy was not actually thought out during the time that it was declared by FDR, but the importance of the declaration was the underlying desire to promote commercial relations with other nations to save the United States from its ongoing depression (Smith). In order to prove his ideals towards other nations that previously thought the United States to be an oppressive power, FDR began multiple reciprocal trade agreements with the Latin American countries. Alongside this, the Export-import bank began to provide the other countries with credit for importing goods from the United States. In company with the economic acts done in response to the Good Neighbor policy, militaristic actions were also taken in order to fully gain the trust of the foreign countries. With acts such as the Platt Amendment, the United States proved that they would no longer interfere with domestic affairs in other countries. To further prove they would not use their military to engage in domestic affairs, the U.S. government refused to send in troops when the U.S. oil companies were having conflicts with the Mexican oil companies. Instead of attempting to boycott U.S. imports to Mexico completely, the U.S. oil companies were pressed to come to a compromise with the Mexican president to further demonstrate the Good Neighbor policy (Foreign). FDR’s ideal was to lower the overall armaments in the world and slowly end the desire for war between other nations. The policy overall had the greatest impact on the majority of the western hemisphere.

While this policy had a great effect on the western side of the globe, the same could not be said about the eastern side. This cartoon was made only a few years before the beginning of World War II, and plenty of tensions were flaring up between nations. According to the article associated with this cartoon, Pax Americana, almost all countries can easily tell about how they desire peace while their actions prove the exact opposite. Lines such as “Hitler, with one foot on the Rhine, the other foot on squelched minorities is a man of peace and will sign any treaty to prove it” further implicates that actions towards peace speak louder than words towards peace (Knott). From the implementation of the Good Neighbor policy, the United States has proven themselves to be the nation that is truly pushing towards peace unlike all other nations in the eastern hemisphere. The cartoon shows the eastern hemisphere as it is plagued by the contagious “war fever,” showing the current war-torn state the east is in as well as the fact that war is “contagious” because war can breed more war. The people behind the fence in this cartoon handing out the Good Neighbor Policy towards the eastern hemisphere as a “medicine” in order to cure the eastern nations of their war fever. Essentially, if the eastern hemisphere could implement a policy similar, if not equal to, the Good Neighbor policy and prove their desire for peace with their actions, war could as a whole finally come to an end.

Works Cited

“The New Deal.” Rooseveltinstitute. Web. 27 Nov. 2014. <>.

“The Great Depression (1929-1939).” Gwu. Web. 27 Nov. 2014.  <>.

Barry, Tom, and Laura Carlsen. “The Good Neighbor Policy – A History to Make Us Proud.”Peace. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

“Foreign Relations between Latin America and the Caribbean States, 1930–1944.” Gdc.gale. Web. 27 Nov. 2014. <>.

Smith, Joseph. “Good Neighbor Policy.” Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. Ed. Robert

S. McElvaine. Vol. 1. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. 401-402. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

Knott, John F. “The Dread Contagion.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 2 Apr. 1936: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.             <>.

Knott, John F. “Pax Americana.” Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 2 Apr. 1936, sec. 2: 2. Print.

Tea for Two


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.

Works Cited:

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.

Knott, John Francis. “Normal Relations Resumed.” Dallas Morning News[Dallas] 20 Nov. 1933: 2. Infoweb.newsbank. Web. 21 Oct. 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.

How it Will Work

How it Will Work , John Francis Knott – October 1933

This cartoon comes in response to an address to the nation President Roosevelt made in October of 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression. He declared that the United States no longer should rely on outside countries to influence the value of gold in the US, and that the government would be setting up a market where the price of gold and the purchasing power of the dollar would be fixed.

In the previous March, the United States stopped using gold payments and effectively went off the gold standard, but gold was still relevant in trade, both domestic and international. Previously, the Federal Reserve was required to hold gold equal to 40% of the value of the currency it issued (the dollar), and to convert those dollars into gold at a fixed price of a little over $20 per ounce. The Federal Reserve held more than enough gold to convert to currency typically, and this was called “free gold.” In early to mid 1933, large quantities of gold left the Federal Reserve, both domestically and internationally. Experts say individuals and businesses preferred having metallic gold instead of paper currency, and that foreign investors feared that the dollar itself was devaluating. Both of these combined are reasons the Federal Reserve Bank of New York could no longer carry out its’ commitment of handing out gold instead of paper currency, and so the National Banking Holiday was created.

Throughout the next few months, the Roosevelt administration gradually weakened the US’s tie to gold through a series of actions. Beginning in April, the administration prohibited exports of gold and prohibited the Treasury department and other institutions from converting currency into gold. The next month, congress passed the Thomas amendment to the Agricultural Relief Act, which gave the president the power to reduce the content of gold in the dollar by as much as 50%. Silver was also added as an option to back the dollar, instead of just gold. In June, a resolution repealed gold clauses in contracts, both governmental and private. Gold clauses were guarantees in contracts that the parties involved would be repaid in gold or the monetary equivalent, as set by the value from 1900. These three initiatives together evolved the Roosevelt gold policy, leading up to the second phase, which was introduced in October of 1933 (for which the political cartoon is a reaction to).

In simple terms, the purpose of this second phase was to devaluate the dollar. The government authorized the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to buy gold at increasing prices, which raised the value of gold in terms of dollars, but lowered the value of dollars in terms of gold and foreign currencies. The ultimate goal of this was to raise prices of American commodities, which would counteract the deflation that pulled the economy into the state it was currently in. This reflation would hypothetically help those in debt, help banks, and businesses. The reflation would also hopefully lower prices of American goods internationally, which would encourage exports, and raise prices of foreign goods, which would discourage imports.

The cartoon by John Knott in the October 24th edition of the Dallas Morning News is a depiction of President Roosevelt flying and raising a gold dollar coin higher and higher, as if it was a kite. The editorial that accompanies the cartoon, A Market for Gold, says “the establishment of the gold market puts the President in position to push consistently toward a price level which may be acceptable as equitable to both creditors and debtors, without an unnecessary amount of interference because of manipulation abroad.” This quote quite possibly depicts most clearly what the cartoon is trying to show. While the editorial seems to be supportive of the new gold market, it is also skeptical in some ways, mostly about the President mostly ignoring the devaluation of the dollar. The United States had been under the gold standard for so long, and so as it weaned off it, many were nervous and dubious about the results. The editorial ends by saying “All that remains to be done is the announcement and the stabilization that the President in due time will make.” So while the Dallas Morning News supports President Roosevelt’s idea, they are still waiting for more.

A reason the dollar coin is depicted as a kite is because of the uncertainty of the value of the actual currency. It is easy to think you’re flying a kite excellently, but all of a sudden a gust of wind could arrive, or anything of that nature, and the kite will crash to the ground. The editorial board acknowledges that Roosevelt can now control the price of their currency, but that the dollar in due time will devaluate, or fall to the ground (as a kite does).

Works cited:

Knott, John. “How it Works” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 24 October, 1933: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 23 November, 2014.

“A Market for Gold” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 24 October, 1933: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 23 November, 2014.

Gary Richardson, Alejandro Komai, and Michael Gou. “Roosevelt’s Gold Program – A Detailed Essay on an Important Event in the History of the Federal Reserve.” Roosevelt’s Gold Program – A Detailed Essay on an Important Event in the History of the Federal Reserve. 1933. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. 

Germany’s Christmas Tree

A desolate Christmas tree without pine needles garnished with the burdens of Germany and strung together with thick chains.  Ornaments labeled with terms such unemployment, reparations, hunger, debts, communism, fascism, and revolution threat. Instead of a star, the top of the tree is decorated with small lit candle labeled hope.
Germany’s Christmas Tree

This political cartoon, published on December 23, 1931, depicts the economic crisis Germany faced due to reparations after World War 1. The Treaty of Versailles, negotiated among the Allied Powers and Germany, stated that Germany would agree to pay reparations under the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan. Germany’s paramount issue involved foreign debts with the United States. During the 1920’s, Germany’s government borrowed excessive amounts of money abroad in order to fulfill reparations payments to France and Great Britain. In the summer of 1931, various German banks began to close while the percentage of bankruptcy and unemployment continued to increase at an alarming rate. Germany’s economic struggle ultimately became a catalyst for voters to consider political parties such as fascism and communism. The rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party reached its peak during this particular era. Hitler promised to end reparations, eliminate unemployment, overturn the Treaty of Versailles, eradicate debts, and lay the foundation for a strong national government thus recovering Germany’s sense of authority and pride.

The article associated with this cartoon titled “Center of Interest” capitalizes Germany’s strategy to rebuild its infrastructure and reputation. Hitler is confident that his Fascist party will be in power in Germany and Premier Laval loudly proclaims that France will never permit reparations to be sacrificed to private debts or permit the tampering of the Young Plan (“Center of Interest”). The economic interests of the French and United states would be jeopardized if Germany were to disclaim reparations and decide to pay short term credits instead. Ultimately, refusing to pay reparations could potentially lead to another war. President Paul von Hindenburg would no longer be a candidate for re-election in the spring due to his old age which leaves Germany with an unanswered question of who would obtain power. Hitler’s political claims for the economic stability of Germany are beginning to appear much more attractive to voters. Author John Hartwell Moore suggests that many in the international community such as British general Henry Wilson and economist John Maynard Keynes believe that reparations authorized under the Treaty of Versailles were unreasonably disciplinary, stripping Germany of its dignity which ultimately created geopolitical circumstances that aided Hitler’s rise to power in Germany (“Reparations for Racial Atrocities).

The humor conveyed in this political cartoon derives from an ironic representation of how a Christmas tree should be decorated. Instead of a beautiful arrangement of ornaments and bright lights wrapped around a healthy pine tree, the Christmas tree portrayed in the political cartoon illustrates a desolate tree without pine needles garnished with the burdens of Germany and strung together with thick chains. Ornaments on a common Christmas tree consist of ornaments and decorations that represent the Christian religion. Christmas is usually perceived as a holiday involving an abundance of gifts yet there are no gifts under Germany’s Christmas tree. Christmas lights which signify hope, happiness, and safety is substituted with thick chains representing bondage and enslavement. Germany’s Christmas tree vividly epitomizes Germany’s economic well-being at that time.  A small candle lit on the top of the tree labeled “hope” exemplifies Hitler’s proposal for safety, strength, and renewal for Germany utilizing fascism as a catalyst.

Works Cited:

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

Author Not Listed. “Center of Interest.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 23 Dec. 1931: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

Knott, John F. “Germany’s Christmas Tree.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 23 Dec. 1931: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. <>.

“Reparations for Racial Atrocities.” Encyclopedia of Race and Racism. Ed. John Hartwell Moore. Vol. 2. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. 490-493. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.


His Final Refuge


His Final Refuge, John Francis Knott- February 7, 1932
His Final Refuge, John Francis Knott- February 7, 1932

His Final Refuge by John Knott is a political cartoon that criticizes the events leading up to the Second Sino-Japanese War.  His Final Refuge is told from the American viewpoint and how the United States viewed the countries in East Asia.  As Japan and Russia industrialized and became world players over the course of the 20th Century, the United States viewed each country as a potential threat to its own power.  Due to increasing politico-economic tensions the United States would back certain countries at different times in accordance with its own foreign policy agenda.  In this context we can begin to see how different wars between the East Asian countries affected the United States’ alliances.  Once Japan began to rise to prominent power and began to attack Russia for resources, the United States supported Russia.  Later on in World War I the United States and Japan ended up on the same side while still not on good terms, which further increased tensions.  With the rise of communism the United States stopped supporting Russia and sent in troops to help clear the country of its communist revolution.  The complex political-economic relationships between all of these countries provide the backdrop for His Final Refuge by John Knott.

Nationalism amongst nations in the 19th century grew which in turn cause many countries to become colonial nations to expand their borders.  With many new nations becoming colonial nations, the new colonial nations began to challenge the already powerful Western European countries like Germany and France.  The first Sino-Japanese War in 1894 dealt with China and Japan fighting over Korea.  China ended up losing due to being poorly equipped.  Due to the Japanese victory Japan began to rise to power and split China up into a weak country that consisted of spheres of influence, which are territories that accommodate an outside nation culturally, economically, militarily or politically.  Japan then continued their expansion into the Asian mainland in order to grow their empire.  Japan also fought with Russia over the possession of Manchuria and Korea in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904.  Japan won the Russo-Japanese War and Russia gave up Port Arthur and the Liaodong Peninsula to Japan and recognized Korea as a Japanese sphere of influence.  In 1914 World War I had begun and Japan had joined the Allies in order to gain Germany’s pacific territories.  During this time Japan began to politically dominate China and the Pacific.  The United States began to dislike Japan due to competition over territories in the Pacific and tensions further increased when both nations were on the same side in World War I despite competition with each other.  In 1917 during the Russian Revolution once Tsar Nicholas II was removed from power the United States praised the revolution but once the Bolsheviks regained power president Wilson sent troops to stop the revolution even though Russia was technically an ally.  This shows us that the United States is also vying to keep other nations in control and keep its place as the most powerful industrial nation.

In the February 7th, 1932 edition of the Dallas Morning Newspaper, It is reported that Japan laid down its heaviest bombardment in Shanghai on January 28th, which shows how much tensions are escalating in East Asia.  Another article in the February 7th, 1932 edition of the Dallas Morning Newspaper reports that Russia is expecting another world war and has began to train troops to prepare.  It is also reported in the same edition of the Dallas Morning Newspaper that Russia might join with China in order to stop Japan from encroaching on its territory, although the two countries have treaties.  These events reported by the newspaper show us that tensions between these nations were building at a rapid pace.

His Final Refuge by John Knott depicts Russia as a communist nation living in a wooden shack watching China getting hit by a Japanese soldier with a large rifle.  In John Dower’s book, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific, Dower explains that in many other cartoons of in that period Japan is depicted as ape like.  Many Americans believed that the Japanese were inferior and possessed less intelligence than them, which created this common trope among American political cartoons at the after World War I.  The Russian is depicted as looking silently among the horrendous act of the Japanese moving the Chinese into submission.  His Final Refuge refers to China being put in its final resting place through complete political and economic domination.  At the time of 1932 it looked like Japan would dominate China but during The Second Sino Japanese War in 1937, The United States began to aid China and in 1945 the Japanese troops surrendered.

This cartoon provides a grim depiction of what the United States believed was going on with Japan.  Japan was increasingly militarizing and expanding itself as a nation after the first Sino-Japanese war and the United States believed it was going to finally dominate Japan during the period in between the First and Second Sino-Japanese Wars.  This period before World War II in East Asia marks an era of increasing tensions due to colonialism, which in turn creates shifting alliances between China, Japan, Russia and the United States.  These increasing tensions will finally erupt later on proving to be fatal for the world as the Second Sino-Japanese War occurs in 1937 and World War II begins in 1939 with The United States and Russia siding with the Allies and Japan siding with the Axis.

Works Cited:

Andrea, Alfred J., and Carolyn Neel. “Sino-Japanese War, 1894–1895.” World History Encyclopedia. Vol. 16. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2011. 837. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

Author Not Listed. “Heaviest Bombardment Yet Laid Down by Japanese Guns.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 7 Feb. 1932: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

Christensen, Karen, and David Levinson. “China–Japan Relations.” Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Vol. 2. New York City: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002. 6-12. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

Dower, John W. War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. New York: Pantheon, 1986. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

Eberspaecher, Cord. “Russo-Japanese War.” Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450. Ed. Thomas Benjamin. Vol. 3. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 988-990. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

Elias Tobenkin. “World War Expected By Soviet And Men, Women and Children are Being Given Rigid Training.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 7 Feb. 1932: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

Knott, John F. “His Final Refuge.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 7 Feb. 1932: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

Come Down and Be Organized


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

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

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

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

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

Work Cited:

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

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

“Oil and The C. I. O.” Dallas Morning News 4 Apr. 1937. NewsBank/Readex, Database: America’s Historical Newspapers. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.


America’s Mount Everest

This black-and-white cartoon from 1936 depicts Franklin Roosevelt, two American youths, and an old man staring off at a mountain labeled 'Unemployment Problem.' Roosevelt and the two youths look hopeful and strong while the old man is sitting down and saying 'It can't be done.'
America’s Mount Everest


The cartoon, published in April of 1936, is a poignant commentary on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) New Deal Domestic Program and the way it was received by critics and the general public (Knott). In 1936 FDR was receiving harsh criticism for his New Deal. Roosevelt explained to the American people that his New Deal program would seek to deliver relief, recovery, and reform—what he called the “3 R’s.” Opponents called it socialistic, overly idealistic, and bound to fail. Some even ventured to say it would ruin the economy and worsen unemployment (Baughman). On the other end of the spectrum, supporters of the New Deal thought it could profoundly improve the economic situation in the United States. The article, ‘Roosevelt at the Baltimore,’ illustrates the polarized reaction to the New Deal. The New Deal caused fear and distrust of the government for some, yet hope for many others as well (Baughman). The political cartoon, ‘America’s Mount Everest,’ compares the as yet unclimbed Mount Everest, the highest peak on earth, to America’s unemployment problem.

The article, ‘Roosevelt at the Baltimore,’ that accompanies this cartoon is a sharp-tongued criticism of contemporaneous speech Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave in Baltimore in 1936 discussing the unemployment problem and his New Deal. The article rather harshly states, “The President’s Baltimore speech is typical of the good intentions of the new deal and of its unreasoning qualities.” The article calls the New Deal idealistic, a “terrific drain on national resource,” “impossible,” and even compares it to “ultimate socialism” (“Roosevelt at Baltimore”). In Judith S. Baughman’s ‘The New Deal and its Critics,’ she points out that, “Critics feared at times that the New Deal was the authoritarian mechanism whereby the American voters traded their freedom for economic security” (Baughman). The author continued with a discussion of the vast public fear and distrust of such a game-changing government regulation as the New Deal would later prove to be.

The humor in this cartoon comes from this critical disapproval of the New Deal by the Republicans, industry, and the wealthy.

Knott’s cartoon compares Mount Everest, the highest peak on Earth, to the enormous unemployment problem in the U.S. during the Great Depression. President Roosevelt is climbing to the peak with a young man and woman who represent the ‘American Youth.’ ‘Old Man Apathy’ is the old man sitting on a rock and not climbing. A speech bubble above him quotes him stating, “It can’t be done.” He referring to the fact that FDR and the two youth have climbing gear and are attempting to begin their climb to the summit of the U.S. unemployment problem. This is a poignant cartoon because, at the time, Mount Everest had still not been climbed and like the unemployment problem, had not been overcome (Topham). The weight of the cartoon is depicted in the hopefulness of FDR and the American Youth. Unlike FDR, the old man depicts the negativity of the critics to FDR’s New Deal, especially the Republicans, industry, and those with wealth.

The article, ‘Roosevelt at Baltimore’, situated on the same page as the cartoon, is a harsh criticism of both FDR and his New Deal. It lampoons FDR’s speech, saying it “is typical of the good intentions of the new deal and of its unreasoning qualities” (“Roosevelt at Baltimore”). The article goes on to explain the author’s opinions and reactions to the programs of the New Deal. The author is not only critical but also highly skeptical for the success of the programs including the minimum working age, the retirement age, and job creation through shared work schedules. The article uses cursory calculations in its attempt to prove that FDR’s plan to increase employment could not succeed. The calculations the author employs are biased. The author purposely leaves out many factors and facts that would be necessary to fairly describe how the plan would work and to make a prediction as to the outcome.

President Roosevelt’s optimism for the New Deal programs eventually resulted in the establishment of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which set maximum hours and minimum wages amongst other things (Baughman). Optimism is reflected in Knott’s political cartoon illustrating the force of will that ultimately held the country together through the Great Depression.

Works Cited

Author Not Listed. “Roosevelt at Baltimore.” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 15 Aug. 1936: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <>.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Address to the Young Democratic Club, Baltimore, Md.,” April 13, 1936. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.             <>.

Judith S. Baughman. “The New Deal and its Critics.” American Decades. Ed. et al. Vol. 4: 1930-1939. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 Oct. 2014.

Knott, John F. “America’s Mount Everest.” Cartoon. The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 15 Apr. 1936: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <>.

Topham, Andrew. “Sir Edmund Hillary: First Ascent of Mount Everest.” Time Magazine, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <,29307,1702756,00.html>.

Advice From a Neighbor

As his neighbor, the fascist party of Belgium, is covered in a landslide of anti-fascist votes, Adolf Hitler gives friendly advice on how his political party wins elections.

This political cartoon comes in reaction to the results of Belgian elections held in April of 1937. The Rexist party was active in Belgium from the early 1930s until their ban in 1944. The main focus of the Rexist party, or “Rex” as it was called, was a “moral renewal” of Belgium through dominance of the Catholic Church, which Belgian Cardinal Jozef-Ernest van Roey did not approve of. The party also advocated Belgian nationalism and Royalism, meaning they were for a monarch being the head of Belgium.

At the time of the election in 1937, Rex had 21 of the 202 deputies and twelve senators in the Belgian government as a result of the elections in 1936. Rex had just recently aligned itself with Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party in Germany, adopting many of its characteristics. Rex was even able to force the Belgian government to resign in the spring of 1936, but the same government was restored shortly thereafter and Belgium was placed under martial law.

In the election of 1937, the Rexist party’s candidate Leon Degrelle competed with Paul van Zeeland, a member of the Catholic party, for the seat of prime minister. Upon winning his first election in 1935, van Zeeland was able to subside the economic crisis Belgium was going through at the time by devaluing the currency and implementing extensive budgetary policies. In 1937, van Zeeland won the seat of prime minister in a landslide with almost 80% of the vote, a crushing blow for the Rexist party and its momentum. One of the main reasons the Nazi party was able to maintain its dominance in Germany was because of laws that prevented many people apposed to fascism from voting in the national elections,  creating landslide victories for their own party.

The article accompanying this cartoon, “Non-Fascist Belgium”, made a statement about how difficult it is for fascism to spread, even when the non-fascist country is neighbors with a fascist country. The author is quick to point out that fascism has never had, “popular approval”, and cites Nazi Germany as an example. The author says that the Nazis, “never mustered more than 38 percent of the German electorate until they were able to master all forms of authority…”. Mussolini’s constitution is also cited, as well as Francisco Franco’s (at the time) on-going attempts to force fascism upon Spain. The article itself is aggressive at the end, with the author feeling a sense of pride in Belgium’s resistance. Calling Degrelle’s strategies “spell-binding”, the article concludes in conceding that Degrelle is a very good campaigner and speaker despite his loss.

This election proved to be the beginning of the end of the Rexist party and fascism in Belgium, and was a statement by the Belgian people of their opposition to a fascist government. When World War II started, Rex welcomed German occupation of Belgium, even though it had initially supported Belgian neutrality. When Belgium was liberated in 1944, the party was banned and many former Rexists were imprisoned or executed for their role in collaborating with the Nazi party.

The humor in this cartoon comes particularly from how it portrays Adolf Hitler. Most of the time  in history and in political cartoons, Hitler is shown as a ruthless, evil man who will stop at nothing to claim dominance of Europe. But, this cartoon shows Hitler as a friendly neighbor partaking in the neighbor cliche of peaking over the fence to say hello. He is even giving seemingly friendly advice and participating in friendly conversation. This contradiction creates the humor.

The cartoon also shows Hitler doing the Nazi salute, a common symbol of Hitler’s reign over Germany. In the context of the cartoon, this salute could be taken as Hitler waving to his neighbor, a much more friendly gesture than the Nazi salute. An exaggeration in the cartoon is the landslide of votes shown engulfing “Belgium’s fascist part”, or the Rexist party, is exaggerated to show how badly the Belgian fascist party lost in the election. Upon closer inspection of the cartoon, the man representing the Belgian fascist party has his own toothbrush mustache, just like Hitler’s mustache, showing that the Belgian fascist party is in part an extension of the Nazi party and its policies.


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

Author Not Listed. “Non-Fascist Belgium” The Dallas Morning News [Dallas] 13 Apr. 1937: n. pag. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

“Crushing Defeat Handed Fascism In Belgian Vote.” Chicago Daily Tribune 12 Apr. 1937, Volume XCIV – No. 87 ed.: 6. Chicago Tribune. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

“Rexist Movement.” 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. 2216-2217. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

De Grand, Alexander. “Fascism and Nazism.” Encyclopedia of European Social History. Ed. Peter N. Stearns. Vol. 2: Processes of Change/Population/Cities/Rural Life/State & Society. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2001. 509-517. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.