Category Archives: Knott Cartoons

Posts about Knott cartoons, created during the Spring 2018 semester

Can He Sell the Old Man?

Standing outside a barbed wire fence, US Speaker of the House John Garner shows Old Man Texas his plan to divide Texas into five separate states.
Standing outside a barbed wire fence, US Speaker of the House John Garner shows Old Man Texas his plan to divide Texas into five separate states.

Through the history of politics, borders have always been a question up for debate. Man-made political boundaries have been a cause of strife for millennia, and the battles for who gets to draw those lines on maps may likely never end. More recently, borders, representative democracies, and their intrinsic ties to the political process have turned these permeable lines into constitutional weapons. In the 1930s, a debate arose over manipulation of borders—not to change trade or migration or money—but to shift the balance of power in the United States by splitting up the Lone Star State. Then US Speaker of the House, John Nance Garner, attempted to use a nearly 100-year-old law to legally divide Texas into five different states.

House-Speaker John Garner was a Texas-born lawyer who lived from 1868–1967. A Democrat, he served fifteen terms in the United States House of Representatives until 1933, when he was elected Vice-President to Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Patenaude). Due to his warm relations with Congress, acquired in his tenure as a legislator, Garner was vital in passing Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms (Patenaude). Before his ascension to the Vice-Presidency, however, Garner proposed some controversial ideas. “Can He Sell the Old Man,” the comic by John Knott, and “Texas One and Indivisible,” the accompanying editorial, both published in The Dallas Morning News in 1932, reference a proposed option by national House Democrats to divide Texas into five separate states. Garner is depicted in the comic holding a map of the Lone Star State and “selling” the plan to “Old Man Texas,” Knott’s “most famous character” embodying the rural Texan’s ideals of honesty in government. (Perez).

Over the years, there have been many attempts to split Texas into multiple states. Of course, none of these plans ever came to fruition. To create a legal justification, all proposed divisions have used the original Texas annexation as signed by the United States in 1845. A compromise between slave-states and free-states, “The Joint-Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States,” declares plainly that Texas may be divided into five individual states (United States Congress) to balance the number of slave and free states as needed. Even when slavery was banned in the United States and the number of free and slave states no longer had implication for the makeup of the Senate, the law remained on the books as a legal justification for dividing Texas.

John Garner’s first attempt to quintisect the state in 1921 was boisterous but unsuccessful as he had no clout. As Speaker of the House, however, Garner’s 1931 attempt to divide Texas had far more momentum. Contemporary sources identify a passionate and frustrated attitude taken on Garner’s part. His stated reason for his proposal was to “transfer the balance of political power from New England to the south” and “restore the prestige” of the southern states (Jacobs). Garner approached the rebalancing of Senate representation as a response to perceived attacks by powerful, regional political hegemons—particularly the North-Eastern United States and their unified interests.

This vengeance for Texas and the South tainted how the public viewed Garner’s ideas. John Knott’s comic exemplifies how Garner’s plan was received. From the outside of a barbed-wire fence, the artist pits the stocky Garner as a solicitor trying to convince “Old-Man Texas” of the Speaker’s grand plan. Garner comes across as smarmy—as if this is a back-alley deal to be cast with Texas joining the Democrats in a big score of federal voting power. “More senators on fewer acres,” he says, pointing to his map of Texas. “Old-Man Texas” appears to be humoring the Speaker, with a nonchalance that reflects an attitude of dismissal. That attitude is further elaborated in the accompanying editorial.

Garner’s goal was to increase Democratic representation in the US Senate (Jacobs). A divided Texas would have five times the amount of control in the Senate, with the majority of the new seats likely going to Garner’s party. Thus, his plan would have created a new regional bloc to compete with the North-Eastern states.  

The editorial, “Texas One and Indivisible,” warned of competing regional interests in the United States—singling out the contemporary example of the East Coast’s homogeneity and how it was used as a voting bloc in the Senate. While Garner would have certainly agreed with a Southern bloc, The Dallas Morning News was not at all supportive of the idea of separating of Texas at all. Adding more regional blocks, it was argued, would only create more “petty states” with “overrepresentation in the Senate” (Dallas Morning News). In addition, the newspaper condemned the expensive construction of four additional legislative buildings and the costly redundancies of tax dollars going to prop-up four more governorships (Dallas Morning News).

The power of borders is unmistakable. Texan history has always had difficulties with the manipulation of how governments draw lines on the map. Legal gerrymandering lives on today in the Texas legislatures and has been a tactic for amassing power for political parties, much like John Garner’s schemes in the twenties and thirties. For example, the recent 2003 State redistricting was rife with protest and court cases. To date, dividing Texas into five states has never been realized, but other measures to remap the political landscape and consolidate political power in the Lone Star State have been successful.

Works Cited

Elliot, Claude. “Division of Texas.” Texas State Historical Association. 12 June 2010. Web.
https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/mqd01

Jacobs, Frank. “What’s the Plural of Texas?” Big Think Inc. Web.
http://bigthink.com/strange-maps/537-whats-the-plural-of-texas

“John Knott’s Cartoons Were Front Page Fixture of News” Editorial. The Dallas Morning News. 17 Feb 1963. Print.

Knott, John. “Can He Sell the Old Man?” The Dallas Morning News. 3 Jan 1932, sec. 3: 10. Print.

Patenaude, Lionel V. “Garner, John Nance.” Texas State Historical Association. 15 June, 2010. Web.
https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fga24

Perez, Joan Jenkins. “Knott, John Francis.” Texas State Historical Association. 15 June 2010. Web. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fkn05

“The Joint-Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States” United States Congress. 12 Dec 1844. Print.
https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ref/abouttx/annexation/march1845.html

Trickey, Erick. “For More Than 150 Years, Texas has had the Power to Secede…From Itself.” Smithsonian Institute. March 7, 2017. Print.

“Texas, One and Indivisible.” Editorial. The Dallas Morning News. 3 Jan 1932, sec. 3: 10. Print.

Japan at Shanghai 1932

Having overstepped the Manchurian border, an imperial soldier breaks down the door to Shanghai and its boycott against Japan.
Having overstepped the Manchurian border, an imperial soldier breaks down the door to Shanghai and its boycott against Japan.

In the midst of its imperial conquest, Japan invaded and conquered Manchuria through the Mukden incident that took place in 1931 (Byas 2). Manchuria was a territory rich with valuable resources that was legally governed by China. After the establishment of the pseudo-government, “Manchukuo,” in Manchuria, Japan began to use excessive military force on Shanghai to suppress Chinese boycotts Japanese goods that arose out anti-Japanese resentment. In doing this, Japan hoped to occupy Shanghai in the process, gaining a foothold in another valuable area in order to spread its sphere of influence. Ultimately, these aggressive acts carried out by Japan not only violated its legal obligation to denunciate war as outlined by the League of Nations, but also further heightened tensions that was already enlisted between the two nations.

In John Knott’s political cartoon, Having Crushed the Chinese “Bandits,” (Knott) published in January of 1932, he illustrates imperial Japan’s aggressive stance upon China – particularly on the city of Shanghai. The cartoon depicts Japan as a burly soldier who is using the butt of his rifle to break down the door to a home that is labeled “Shanghai.” Additionally, a note is posted at the entry, reading “Boycott against Japan.” Japan is depicted as stepping over a river from Manchuria into Shanghai, essentially intruding and forcing his way into this territory. The accompanying editorial titled, “Japan at Shanghai,” (Dallas Morning News) further examines China’s helplessness in the wake of the aggrandizing force and presence of the Japanese military that was deployed to cease the boycott on Japanese goods– ultimately violating international law and abandoning its former policy of civil relations.

The context of the comic revolves around animosity that emerged between China and Japan after the Mukden Incident. After emerging victorious in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, Japan had been granted the lease and administration of the South Manchuria Railway through the Treaty of Portsmouth (“Russo-Japanese War”). With Japan’s interest to further expand its political and economic influence into Manchuria, military personnel devised a plan to deceive and attack China. On September 18, 1931, a miniscule bombing was staged near the South Manchuria Railway Zone neighboring Mukden. Even though the explosion was harmless, the imperial Japanese army blamed Chinese nationalists for the railway sabotage, initiating a full-scale invasion to retaliate and ultimately colonize Manchuria (Kingston 1). The occupation of this section of the Chinese Republic now enabled Japan to establish its puppet government of Manchukuo. It is believed that the incident was “contrived by the Japanese army, without authorization of the Japanese Government, to justify the Japanese invasion and occupation that followed” (Swift 10). Therefore, this act of aggression was accomplished in “utter and cynical disregard” (“Japanese Conquest of Manchuria”) of Japan’s duty to uphold the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a multilateral agreement created for nearly all the world’s nations to renounce the use of war as a tool for national policy (“Kellogg-Briand Pact”).

The loss of northeastern China deeply humiliated the Chinese, accentuating the immense tension between two nations, and was followed by a mass anti-Japanese movement as well as a boycott of Japanese goods in Shanghai. Amidst the growing anti-Japanese sentiment in China, the Japanese military continued its mission to strengthen its political and economic spheres of influence throughout China – particularly into Shanghai where other Western Powers, such as Britain and France, have established their concessions and pseudo-governments (Dallas Morning News). In Knott’s cartoon, Japan’s decision to enter into Shanghai is denoted by the body language of the soldier who boldly steps over a boundary dividing Manchuria from Shanghai. This action not only directly references Japan’s aggressive military conquest into Shanghai, but also literally depicts Japan overstepping its boundaries in terms of its military power. Ultimately, Japan’s actions did not “fall within any definition of war,” (“Japanese Conquest of Manchuria”), and it essentially abandoned its legal obligations to follow the Kellogg- Briand Pact and denunciate war.

In order to justify greater military enforcements in China, the Japanese military wanted to investigate various anti-Japanese incidents; in this, the violent nature of these acts served as justification for Japan to reinforce its military presence in order to “protect” Japanese civilians living throughout Shanghai (“The Shanghai Incident and the Imperial Japanese Navy”). One significant event that catalyzed violent riots throughout China occurred on January 18, 1932, when five Japanese Buddhist monks were unjustly attacked and beaten near Shanghai’s Sanyou Factory by Chinese members of the Anti-Japanese Association. Three of the priests were seriously injured, and one died from his injuries a few days later. Tensions between Japan and China escalated quickly, leading to the burning of Shanghai’s Sanyou Factory. Enraged by these actions, the Japanese Consul-General presented four demands: 1) a formal apology from the Mayor; 2) arrest and punishment of the offenders; 3) paid medical expenses for those who were wounded; 4) disbandment of all anti-Japanese organizations (“The Shanghai Incident and the Imperial Japanese Navy). Furthermore, if the Chinese did not fulfill demands, Japan threatened to “take the necessary steps” to resolve the issue (“Shanghai Incident”).

This assertion of dominance and power resonates deeply with Knott’s characterization of Japan in his cartoon. Knott presents Japan as a massive and bulky military soldier. The immense size and strength portrayed by the illustration parallels with the image of a bully, directly corresponding to Japan’s militaristic demeanor. As the Japanese military attempted to achieve concessions and spheres of influence within Shanghai, it essentially did so by violating international law as well as bullying Chinese authorities.

Japan’s illegal and aggressive behavior was further amplified by Knott’s illustration of Japan’s behavior within his cartoon. The Japanese soldier is portrayed breaking down the door to the “home” of Shanghai where the boycott against Japanese goods was taking place. Humor is derived from the ironic comparison of the title of the cartoon, “Having Crushed the Chinese ‘Bandits,’” to the illustration of Shanghai’s fairly civil manner of displaying a composed note announcing its boycott against Japan. The depiction of Shanghai within the cartoon lacks the violence and chaos typically associated with the presence of “bandits.” Therefore, the disparity between Japan’s and Knott’s perspectives of Chinese anti-Japanese protesters serves to trivialize Japan’s use of excessive force to invade Shanghai to cease the boycotts on Japanese goods. Therefore, the contrast in the characterization of the two countries underscore Knott’s criticism towards Japan’s questionable diplomacies and military actions throughout its imperial conquest.

While Japan’s aggressive and unjust imperial behavior upon Shanghai received much criticism in the eyes of the world during 1932, the quest to dominate the geopolitical chessboard parallels events in the twenty-first century, such as Russia engaging in aggressive military actions and international crimes in order to occupy Ukraine for its valuable economic resources. It is essential to understand past scenarios in order to better interpret what is to come, not only within our present but also in our future.

 

Works Cited

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Kellogg-Briand Pact.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 22 July 2016, www.britannica.com/event/Kellogg-Briand-Pact.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Russo-Japanese War.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 23 Apr. 2018, www.britannica.com/event/Russo-Japanese-War.

HUGH BYAS Wireless to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. “JAPANESE SEIZE MUKDEN IN BATTLE WITH CHINESE; RUSH MORE TROOPS TO CITY.” New York Times (1923-Current file), Sep 19 1931, p. 1. ProQuest. Web. 10 May 2018 .

“Japan at Shanghai.” Dallas Morning News, 28 January. 1932. Editorial. Section 2, page

JAPANESE CONQUEST OF MANCHURIA 1931-1932, www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/WorldWar2/manchuria.htm.

Kingston, Jeff. “Memories of 1931 Mukden Incident Remain Divisive.” The Japan Times, www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/09/17/commentary/memories-1931-mukden-incident-remain-divisive/#.Wvc_U4gvxPY.

Knott, John. “Having Crushed the Chinese ‘Bandits’.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News 28 January 1932. Newspaper. 18 April 2018.

“Shanghai, China.” Shanghai, China – New World Encyclopedia, www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Shanghai,_China.

Swift, John. “Mukden Incident.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 17 May 2017, www.britannica.com/event/Mukden-Incident.

The Shanghai Incident and the Imperial Japanese Navy. www.bing.com/cr?IG=AE2B022FEDD84A6EA47CE3C151AA0ED0&CID=0D02E1CFB1D8630C1AC0EA21B0776236&rd=1&h=NRjhA4BE0lryCR6CBnloBEH0TP-7MgY0XSsW_wRCul8&v=1&r=http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=moore&p=DevEx.LB.1,5578.1.

 

 

 

Fool’s Gold

Unwelcome Strangers rush into a boom town.
During the first Texas oil boom, thousands of people flocked to boom towns to earn a living, but not all visitors were welcome because of the lawlessness that came with them.

 

In the political cartoon “In the Wake of the Gold Rush…” published in The Dallas Morning News on March 8, 1931, John Kott illustrated the cynical threats that loomed over small towns during the first Texas oil boom in the early 1900s. The image shows a crowd of men hastily running towards a vast number of oil derricks in the distance. Behind the men is a large wolf whose body is positioned as if it was stalking prey, and on the wolf, the word “Lawlessness” is written across its body. The cartoon is depicting the infiltration of crime that accompanied rapid population growth that boom towns often experienced during the Texas “black gold” (Gale) rush.

In the late 1800s, Texas was a predominately rural state. Its economy centered around cattle, agriculture, and lumber. The largest city at the time was Dallas. The rest of the urban population was located along what is today interstate highway 35 (Texas Almanac: City Population History from 1850-2000). At the turn of the century, however, a new economic titan was looming beneath the earth in the outskirts of Texas’ open range. The oil boom erupted in 1901 when the Spindle Top oil derrick spewed “black gold” (Gale) in Beaumont, Texas (David). After Spindle Top, discoveries began to spread throughout the state, stretching from the panhandle to the Gulf Coast. Little towns across Texas turned into boom towns overnight and experienced a massive inflow of big-name oil companies, workers, investors and more, all attracted by the promise of newfound riches.

A “boom town,” defined as a town experiencing rapid growth typically resulting from an industry or business development (Collins), can be compared to having a love affair. They are fun at first, and everything is new and exciting, but it doesn’t last. Economically, boom towns flourished due to the excess amount of labor and resources. However, as time goes on, and the economic driver that was responsible for their creation runs low, they evolve into cesspools of crime and filth.

Metaphorically, the early 1900s Texas boom town was the epitome of “the other woman.” The only stable infrastructure were oil rigs and saloons; the towns were so congested people were sleeping in tents or cardboard boxes by the thousands. The streets were full of waste and had the stench of gas constantly lingering in the air (Roughnecks). Also, oil fields were usually located in the middle of nowhere. At the time, this allowed for roughnecks, bootleggers, prostitutes, and dope peddlers to flourish without the threat of the law (Allen).

For example, the editorial Unwelcome Strangers (Dallas Morning News), focuses on the presence of the harmful residents of boom towns. The editorial explains that the oil derricks erected around towns like Borger, Corsicana, and Beaumont may have brought an influx of growth and urbanization, but the people included with them were not always worth the tradeoff (Roughnecks).

The editorial begins by addressing the overnight growth of oil boom towns. In the first paragraph, the editorial takes a negative and derogatory stance against the unwelcome spike of the newcomer population. A glimmer of hope is then presented in the editorial by mentioning the possibility of the government offering some solution, this being much like what the Texas Rangers implemented in Borger, TX to bring the city back under authoritative control (Allen).

Another main point in the editorial is the comparison it drew between the flourishing boom towns of East Texas, to Borger TX. Oil was discovered in Borger in March 1926, and it was a nothing town. It had almost no population at the time of oil discovery and grew to over 45,000 residents within 90 days. The new residents, however, were hazardous and ineffectual to the population. Crime quickly suppressed the town. Borger’s newfound reputation began to spread, and it was given the nickname “Booger Town” because of its repulsive and anarchic environment. After the murder of District Attorney John A. Holmes, Governor Moody declared martial law, Texas Rangers and State Troopers traveled to Borger to extract the unwelcome guests from the town and establish a sense of order (Allen).

The presence of a preexisting population would be the difference in the next stage of boom towns located across the East Texas oil field. The editorial compares the East Texas boom towns to Borger, stating these towns had something Borger did not, some form of a pre-established population. Since Borger had no one in it to begin with, all the criminals and bootleggers could simply arrive and do whatever they please. However, East Texas towns seem to have generations of structure and families that will be able to withstand the surge that comes along with an oil boom. The towns will avoid all the cluster and complications that arise at the beginning of a boom and will be able to enjoy their living conditions in a socially and economically feasible manner.

Throughout the early 1900s, the Texas petroleum industry continued to swing from boom to bust and back to boom again. Small towns erected from nothing were permanently etched into the map, others disappeared just as fast as they began. By the 1930s, the Great Depression and the first world war helped stabilize the petroleum industry, and its astounding growth began to flatten out. The “black gold” (Gale) rush had successfully propelled Texas into the next stages of its development into powerhouse status within the United States.

John Knott successfully identified the problematic aspects of the oil boom, which in other ways was so beneficial to the great State of Texas. The boom was a period where Texas experienced tremendous growth and wealth that led to the birth of a new economic industry; but not without setbacks and struggles along the way. Knott did a great job of focusing the public eye on a nuanced but important detail, affecting the lives of thousands during the “black gold” (Gale) rush.

Anderson, Allen. “Borger, TX.” Handbook of Texas Online, 12, June. 2010 https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/heb10 Accessed 31 March 2017.

Brooks, Raymond. “Texas Topics.” Austin American Statesman, 22 Aug. 1932, pp. 4-4 https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/hnpaustinamericanstatesman/docview/1563224168/4548195B53254C40PQ/1?accountid=7118

“Black Gold.” Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History, Encyclopedia.com, 2018https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/black-gold

“Definition of Boom Town.” Boom Town Definition and Meaning, Collins English Dictionaryhttps://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/boom-town

Knott, John. “In the Wake of the Gold Rush…” The Dallas Morning News, 8 March. 1931: p6. Web http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=T46T49LDMTUyNTMwMzg4NC4xNDc0NToxOjEyOjEyOC44My42My4yMA&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D1A955F6DC1E7@2426409-104D1A958EF80F79@5

McComb, David. “Urbanization.” Handbook of Texas Online, 15, June. 2010 https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hyunw Accessed 31 March 2017.

Olien, Roger. “Oil and Gas Industry.” Handbook of Texas Online. 15, June. 2010 https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/doogz Accessed 31 March 2017

“Texas Almanac: City Population History from 1850-2000.” Texas Almanac. 2000 ed. Print.https://texasalmanac.com/sites/default/files/images/CityPopHist%20web.pdf

“Today in Texas History: East Texas Oil Field.” Newstex.com, Houston Chronicle, 5, Oct. 2009 https://advance-lexis-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/document/?pdmfid=1516831&crid=c4ce0810-5bfe-4911-b7b5-549c19f80ef0&pddocfullpath=%2Fshared%2Fdocument%2Fnews%2Furn%3AcontentItem%3A7WST-5YC1-2RGX-T13J-00000-00&pddocid=urn%3AcontentItem%3A7WST-5YC1-2RGX-T13J-00000-00&pdcontentcomponentid=299488&pdteaserkey=sr20&pditab=allpods&ecomp=Ly_k&earg=sr20&prid=a402aa78-6c3d-43ae-97bf-dc8f7f77e5fb

“Unwelcome Strangers.” The Dallas Morning News, 8 March 1931, p. 6.http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=T46T49LDMTUyNTMwMzg4NC4xNDc0NToxOjEyOjEyOC44My42My4yMA&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D1A955F6DC1E7@2426409-104D1A958EF80F79@5

“Wave of Lawlessness in Oil Fields; Witchia Falls Jail is Crowded.” Austin American Statesman, 1 Jan. 1920, pp. 1-1 https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/hnpaustinamericanstatesman/docview/1621720843/69305F8F688D4C2EPQ/1?accountid=7118

Democratic National Conventions of 1928 and 1932

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A man is remembering the 1928 Democratic convention regarding the “Dry-Wet Question” before going into the Democratic convention of 1932.

National political conventions are held every four years to choose a party’s candidates for President and Vice President (Berman, Russell). Conventions also are held to set platforms that articulate the party’s stance on issues. In the Democratic conventions of 1928 and 1932, a major issue discussed was Prohibition, also known at the Volstead Act, which implemented the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, making it illegal to buy, sell, or make alcohol. Prohibition was in place in the U.S. for thirteen years, from 1920 to 1933, until President Franklin D. Roosevelt eventually repealed it. In the debate over Prohibition the expression “wet-dry” alluded to whether a candidate was for or against prohibition. “Wet” meant the candidate wanted alcohol to be legal, while “dry” meant the candidate wanted alcohol to be illegal. This was an ongoing debate that preceded the 1928 convention and lasted through the Democratic convention of 1932.

The Democratic convention of 1928 was held in Houston (“United States History”). Hosting the convention in Texas was a big deal because it was the first time the South had hosted the Democratic convention since the Civil War (“Prohibition Repealed 1920-1933″). Alfred E. Smith was a Democrat from Houston who was an anti-prohibitionist. He was also the first Roman Catholic nominated as a presidential candidate. He wanted to destroy the Volstead Act.

During that convention Alfred E. Smith was a “wet” candidate, who supported the repeal of the 18th Amendment. Smith entered the convention with the majority of the votes. Going into the convention with this stance influenced the Democratic party to also be “wet” because of how trusted Smith was as a politician (“United States History”). Since Smith went into the convention without much competition from other Democrats, his platform was adopted as the Democratic platform for the 1928 election. Therefore, the outcome of the 1928 convention was that the Democratic party would be “wet.”

Despite the efforts of Smith, Herbert Hoover eventually won the presidency. Hoover was a “dry” Republican from Kansas City. Charles Curtis was his Vice President and also was pro prohibition alongside Hoover (“1928 Conventions”). Hoover continued to uphold the 18th amendment during his time as president.

Four years later, the national Democratic convention was held in Chicago (“United States History”). In 1932, the question of whether the candidate representing the party would be “wet” or “dry” was still up for debate. Then-New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, a “wet,” entered the Chicago convention with the majority of the votes (“Franklin D. Roosevelt”). “FDR had been a “dry” candidate, but as he built his campaign for the presidency in 1932, he agreed to become a “wet” in order to receive the Democratic Party nomination. He made a campaign promise to overturn the 18th Amendment and to legalize drinking.

“Wets Pour it On”, an editorial in the Dallas Morning News refers to the Democratic convention that would take place in Chicago in 1932 from June 27 — July 2. When Roosevelt’s campaign manager realized that his candidate could not win the presidential nomination without the votes that John Garner, a politician and lawyer from Texas had been promised, he arranged a meeting with Garner’s campaign manager to see if Garner would consider running as Vice President with Roosevelt (“John Nance Garner, 32nd Vice President.”)  However, the two men took different stances on the issue of prohibition at the beginning, and that played a big role in the 1932 convention.

It wouldn’t make sense for Democrats to be “wet” when such an influential person as John Garner was “dry.”  The editorial criticized the two men’s differing political stances to the wet-dry question. Preferring to be part of the ticket, Garner decided to team up with Roosevelt in the middle of the convention. After changing his position on the issue, Garner was then nominated to run for Vice President for the Democratic party. Roosevelt and Garner both ran “wets.”  Franklin Roosevelt eventually won the Democratic nomination for President and presidency alongside Texan and current Speaker of the House, John Garner as Vice President and called for prohibition’s repeal (1932 Conventions). He did exactly what he promised to do. The results for personal liberty and the economy were immediate. FDR certainly gained an “ally” at Budweiser (“The Real Reason for FDR’s Popularity”).

John Knott’s cartoon is essentially a flashback to the same issues of prohibition that were still being debated in 1928 and 1932. The comic portrays a man looking at the sky during the previous convention in Houston saying, “It might blow over.” He is referring to the political storm over the “wet-dry” platforms of each candidate. The umbrella he is holding in his hand reads, “referendum.” It refers to the popular vote by the electorate to go “wet” or “dry”. The cartoon by John Knott, “Weather Forecast for Houston: Cloudy, Probably Shower” in the Dallas Morning News refers to the Democratic convention held in Houston in 1928. The cartoon retrospectively depicts the outcome of the Democratic Party’s stance in 1928 before their national convention in 1932 where they were still discussing what their party’s stance would be on prohibition. The accompanying editorial, “The Wets Pour It On” also from the Dallas Morning News, foreshadows the upcoming convention in 1932 based upon the outcome of the 1928 convention. In the 1932 Democratic convention the two candidates that ran together, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John Garner originally ran with different stances on prohibition. This is what sparked the editorial being published.

Knott’s cartoon is a depiction of the “wet-dry” question that Democratic politicians were grappling with during their party’s presidential conventions of 1928 and 1932. This cartoon was published right before the latter convention to remind people that the “wet-dry” problem would be discussed again in the upcoming gathering in Chicago. This was significant because the Democratic party might change their stance on being “wet” or “dry” depending on who they nominated. Knott’s cartoon alludes to the “wet-dry” storm that would hopefully “blow over” at the 1928 Houston convention. Knott was poking fun at the fact that America was still not in agreement about the law against alcohol. The whole controversy ended up “blowing over” in 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act which amended the Volstead Act.

Works Cited

Berman, Russell. “What Actually Happens at the U.S. Presidential Conventions?” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 10 July 2016, www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/a-laymans-guide-to-the-republican-and-democratic-national-conventions/489560/.

“Franklin D. Roosevelt: Campaign Address on Prohibition in Sea Girt, New Jersey – August 27, 1932.” The American Presidency Project, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=88395.

“John Nance Garner, 32nd Vice President (1933-1941).” U.S. Senate: John Nance Garner, 32nd Vice President (1933-1941), 12 Jan. 2017, www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/VP_John_Garner.htm.

Knott, John. “Weather Forecast For Houston: Cloudy, Probably Showers.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News 24 May 1932. Newspaper. 17 April 2018.

Knott, John F., Cartoon Scrapbook. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. The University of Texas at Austin. Austin, Texas.

“Prohibition Repealed 1920-1933.” Historic Events for Students: The Great Depression, edited by Richard C. Hanes and Sharon M. Hanes, vol. 3, Gale, 2002, pp. 1-32. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3424800068/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=8cf2b03a. Accessed 21 Mar. 2018.

“THE PROHIBITION QUESTION.” Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), Jul 15, 1928, pp. 1, ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/docview/162149171?accountid=7118.

“The Real Reason for FDR’s Popularity | Mark Thornton.” Mises Institute, 19 Oct. 2010, mises.org/library/real-reason-fdrs-popularity.

“United States History.” Election of 1928: High water mark for Republicans, www.u-s-history.com/pages/h893.html.

“Wets Pour It On” Dallas Morning News, 24 May. 1932. Editorial. Section 2, page 2.

“1928 Conventions.” National Party Conventions 1831-2008, CQ Press, 2010, pp. 111-113. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX2145700035/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=df1e0435. Accessed 21 Mar. 2018.

“1932 Conventions.” National Party Conventions 1831-2008, CQ Press, 2010, pp. 113-116. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX2145700036/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=fb7dca73. Accessed 21 Mar. 2018.

Not a Woman, A Politician

A woman is pronounced victorious by knocking out her male competitor in the Illinois senatorial primary election.
A woman is pronounced victorious by knocking out her male competitor in the Illinois senatorial primary election.

 

John Knott depicts the Illinois senatorial primary election of 1930 in his cartoon, “It Was That Kind of Fight”, which was published in the Dallas Morning News on April 10, 1930. Just one decade prior, women had been given the right to vote, but the fight to gender equality was just beginning. The two candidates in the Illinois senatorial primary race were Ruth Hanna McCormick and Charles S. Deneen, and she came out victorious. There had never been a woman elected into the Senate, so the Illinois senatorial primary of 1930 was a major stride for women. McCormick came from a prominent political family. Her father, Mark Hanna, as well as her first husband, Joseph Medill McCormick, both served as U.S. Senators during her lifetime. The state of Illinois thought McCormick was sure to go on to win the general election because of her qualifications and experience in politics. Although she did not go on to win the general election, the victory of Ruth Hanna McCormick over Charles S. Deneen in the Illinois senatorial primary election of 1930 depicted in Knott’s cartoon, was still a tremendous stride for women in the fight for gender equality.

In 1930, the state of Illinois made history by electing the first woman in a senatorial primary election, Ruth Hanna McCormick. She came from a prominent political family centered around her father, Mark Hanna, who served as a United States Senator from the state of Ohio from 1897 to 1904 (Glass, “Ruth Hanna McCormick”). Her father worked closely on managing the presidential campaigns of William McKinley in 1896 and 1900 (“Mark Hanna in the Senate”). Her first husband, Joseph Medill McCormick, also served on the Senate for the state of Illinois but failed to be reelected in 1925. Thus, her familial political connections made her a promising contender in the 1930 senatorial primary election.

Even before women earned the right to vote in 1920, Ruth was a prominent advocate for the suffrage movement. Once women received the right to vote, she joined the Republican Party and became so influential that she was nominated as an outstanding member of the National Committee (Woolf, “Mark Hanna’s Daughter Chooses to Run”). After the death of her first husband, her work continued, and she began to create women’s clubs in order to increase voting turnout among GOP women (“McCormick, Ruth Hanna”).As a result of her tremendous influence in the Illinois Republican party, her announcement of candidacy in the Illinois senatorial primary elections left very few people surprised.

The principles of hard work and commitment that Ruth learned by working on her father’s campaign at the age of 15 became the building blocks of her campaign. She ran on the platform that “she wasn’t coming into this as a woman but instead as a politician” (Woolf, “Mark Hanna’s Daughter Chooses to Run”). The days of fighting for women’s suffrage were in the past for her now that women had the vote (Woolf, “Mark Hanna’s Daughter Chooses to Run”). She expressed the idea that she was more than qualified for this position despite her gender.

The election was a fight for Ruth as she was an unconventional candidate in a number of ways, the most prominent being her gender. However, she came into the primary election strong and challenged her competitor, Charles S. Deneen, who was a prominent public figure in Illinois. He served as governor for two terms and had been undefeated in 38 years of public service (“Ladies First”). Deneen had also defeated her late husband in the election for the senate. McCormick campaigned in all 102 counties of Illinois and when the election results were announced, she had defeated Deneen by over 200,000 votes (“McCormick, Ruth Hanna”).

This primary election was illustrated in Knott’s cartoon through the three prominent characters depicted. The main character, who is the winner, Ruth Hanna McCormick, was one of the candidates of the Illinois senatorial primary. The next character who is depicted as an older man who looks defeated and surprised represents Charles S. Deneen, McCormick’s running mate in the election. The last character is an old, plump referee who represents the state of Illinois. McCormick appears delighted and has her arm being lifted overhead in victory by the character representing the state of Illinois. The character representative of Deneen has been knocked out and looks defeated and confused. They are standing in a boxing ring that is representative of the actual election that was seemingly a fight between McCormick and Deneen with the state of Illinois announcing the victor.

The elements and results of the senatorial primary election of 1930 are further outlined in the editorial “Ladies First” published in conjunction with Knott’s cartoon in the April 10, 1930 edition of the Dallas Morning News. The author described the public’s reaction to the announcement of candidacy by McCormick did not come as a surprise (“Ladies First”). The author also described her campaign as an intense and furious campaign, which is clearly illustrated in Knott’s cartoon through the injuries sustained by Deneen. The author also highlighted that McCormick was extremely qualified for a political position such as this and that the “Illinois voter evidently believes that the lady is the better man” (“Ladies First”). The editorial made it clear that the opinion of the author was that it was time for a woman to hold such a position, and Ruth Hanna McCormick was extremely likely to win the general election, giving her a seat in the Senate. However, McCormick then went on to face defeat in the general election.

Although women have made immense progress in the fight for gender equality since the 1930’s, particularly in the area of politics, today the fight continues as we have not seen a woman elected to the office of President of the United States. In recent years, our country has come very close to seeing this goal come to completion, but it is still something that must be aimed for in the future.

 

Works Cited

 

Knott, John. “It Was That Kind of Fight.” Dallas Morning News, p. 16.

“Ladies First.” Dallas Morning News, 10 Apr. 1930, infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=H5EF45CBMTUyMjI5NDgzMi4zODI4NzQ6MToxMzoxMjguNjIuMjIuMTI4&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D233CE309F8F9@2426077-104D233D488952B3@15.

“MARK HANNA IN THE SENATE.” New York Times (1857-1922), Feb 22, 1897, pp. 6, ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/95452919?accoaccou=7118.

Miller, Kristie. “McCormick, Ruth Hanna (1880–1944).” Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia, edited by Anne Commire, vol. 10, Yorkin Publications, 2002, pp. 722-727. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX2591306400/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=fe60902a. Accessed 28 Mar. 2018.

“Ruth Hanna McCormick Simms Born in Cleveland, March 27, 1880.” POLITICO, Capitol News Company, LLC, 28 Mar. 2012, advance.lexis.com/document/?pdmfid=1516831&crid=d959f33d-0db2-4e57-b4cd-d1a02e4303c3&pddocfullpath=%2Fshared%2Fdocument%2Fnews%2Furn%3AcontentItem%3A558P-HK31-F118-92RJ-00000-00&pddocid=urn%3AcontentItem%3A558P-HK31-F118-92RJ-00000-00&pdcontentcomponentid=334576&pdteaserkey=sr0&pditab=allpods&ecomp=Ly_k&earg=sr0&prid=3890bd93-a50f-4a9e-a46b-13cdefbbb7bd.

S.J. WOOLF. “MARK HANNA’S DAUGHTER CHOOSES TO RUN.” New York Times (1923-Current file), Oct 16, 1927, pp. 2, ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/103935821?accountid=7118.

WINIFRED MALLON Photograph, by H. “ANOTHER HANNA LOOKS TO THE SENATE.” New York Times (1923-Current file), Jun 09, 1929, pp. 2, ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/104966225?accountid=7118.

Dwight W. Morrow’s Positive Impacts on Mexican-American Relations

The bridge crossing over the Rio Grande illustrates the importance of cooperative Mexican-American relations.
The bridge crossing over the Rio Grande illustrates the importance of cooperative Mexican-American relations.

 

In 1930 the United States was still recovering from its involvement in the first World War when the Great Depression hit. The Mexican economy also began to suffer because it was dependent on trade with the United States. The Great Depression caused tension in the American job market because Mexican workers were viewed as competition for jobs. Early on, Mexican workers started to feel prejudice against them, which culminated the mass repatriation of 1929. Another major U.S. economic concern during the Great Depression was fear that Mexico would expropriate all of the petroleum resources they had, driving United States investors out of Mexico. This heightened conflict in the two countries’ bilateral relationship led to Dwight W. Morrow’s appointment as Ambassador to Mexico. John Knott’s political cartoon, “New International Bridge,” published in 1930 in the Dallas Morning News, depicts border tensions between Mexico and the United States and illustrates the diplomatic issues Morrow had to overcome with Mexico. The accompanying editorial, “Dwight W. Morrow,” explains the positive characteristics Morrow exemplified and how his unconventional leadership tactics shaped future politics and diplomacy.

The U.S. petroleum oil business began to boom in January of 1901 with the discovery of the Spindletop Oilfield which sat on a salt dome formation south of Beaumont, Texas (“Spindletop”). After many failed attempts, all the hard work of the Gladys City Oil, Gas, and Manufacturing Company finally paid off. The company eventually struck oil and estimated that they produced around 100,000 barrels per day (Wooster). In an effort to find similar oil deposits, investors spent billions of dollars in search of more petroleum resources all over Texas. As a result, the Texas economy flourished, bringing thousands of people in search of work to the South (Wooster). Despite a flourishing economy, conflict surrounding oil increased. Due to overproduction of petroleum, exceeding quotas became an issue driving the price of oil down. However, as the U.S. government tried to regulate the oil industry, a rush of drilling occurred leading to national guardsmen being sent to shut down and regulate oil wells (Gard).

Due to the fact that American oil companies also had significant investments in Mexico, they feared Mexico would expropriated their oil “based on the language in the Mexican Constitution”  (“Timeline: U.S.-Mexico Relations”). Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution “declared that the country’s land and all of its natural resources were the patrimony of the Mexican nation and could only be used by foreigners with the government’s consent” (Keller). The United States protested the idea of oil expropriation because it feared Mexico would nationalize all of the petroleum oil reserves on its land. This fear immediately lead to political leaders signing the  Bucareli Agreement of 1923 which protected the investments of foreign investors from the Mexican government (“Timeline: U.S.-Mexico Relations”). Although this agreement was implemented, questions still surfaced about foreign investments in Mexico, which caused President Calvin Coolidge to take action. In 1927 Coolidge appointed Dwight W. Morrow as ambassador. He began his journey to help the two countries overcome their differences and communicate more effectively about oil and other issues in the bilateral relationship. (“MORROW APPOINTED AMBASSADOR IN 1927″).

Obviously, oil was a huge issue causing tensions between Mexico and America in 1930. To illustrate the point, cartoonist John Knott replaced the river of “water” that runs under the bridge with oil, further making oil a barrier between the two countries. The Rio Grande is the natural border between the United States and Mexico. However, Knott illustrated the division between the two countries with a messy, toxic substance, further showing the relationship between America and Mexico as a “sticky” one.

A second point of major diplomatic contention dealt with the exacerbated economic woes of the  Great Depression. Mexico depended heavily on the United States economy. Therefore, when the American economy suffered, it magnified the economic suffering in Mexico. Consequently, during the Great Depression Mexican workers in the United States were viewed as competition for jobs and wages in the United States. Therefore, tensions escalated and led to a “massive repatriation of Mexicans from the United States” (Aguila). During the Depression, “more than a million people of Mexican descent were sent to Mexico” due to the political climate and to feelings of “prejudice” against them (“America’s Forgotten History”). Along with repatriation and people returning to Mexico, Mexico took another hit from America due to the fact that their economy was “built almost entirely” around the United States (Aguila). At that point Mexican-American conflicts increased as both countries’ economies continued to struggle.

This division between Mexico and America over economic competition and labor repatriation was also illustrated in Knott’s cartoon. The words “Rio Prejudice” are flowing through the river that separates the two countries, further illustrating Mexico’s feelings of discrimination during the Great Depression. Ambassador Morrow’s importance was also depicted in the cartoon. He was the “builder of the bridge” that stretched over the river, and the bridge symbolized his efforts to overcome prejudice accusations against the U.S. and strengthen the overall relationship between the two countries.

Morrow was originally appointed ambassador because relations were tense due to “Mexican attacks on the American oil industry and land-holders” (“Dwight Whitley Morrow”). While his “diplomacy was unconventional,” it was nonetheless successful. For example, he had breakfast with the President of Mexico at his private ranch and accompanied him on trips (“Dwight Whitley Morrow”). Morrow ultimately strengthened relations with Mexico by “building up goodwill” and having a “knack for understanding views other than his own” (“Dwight Whitley Morrow”). Due to Morrow’s unconventional tactics he became responsible for mending the bilateral relationship between the United States and Mexico in the 1930’s.

As illustrated in Knott’s political cartoon, Dwight Morrow was the architect of the diplomatic bridge. He was able to reconstruct relations between the two countries due to his “good-will and understanding.” Those two words, inscribed on the bridge, directly parallel how Ambassador Morrow was described in his biography (“Dwight Whitley Morrow”).

The “Dwight W. Morrow” editorial in the Dallas Morning News, accompanied by the “New International Bridge” political cartoon, further displayed the positive influence of Dwight Morrow and allowed both Mexico and America to understand his vital role in mending relations between the two counties. In his last ambassadorial radio address, Morrow stated, “that other men have as much pride of their Nation as we have in our own” and that “we can best defend the rights of our own country when we understand the rights of other countries” (“Dwight W. Morrow”). The “Dwight W. Morrow” editorial reiterates the fact that Morrow’s tactics “set standards worthy of imitation” and that these tactics “strengthen[ed] friendships and the ties of peace among Nations” (“Dwight W. Morrow”).

Morrow’s diplomatic actions as ambassador foreshadowed the Good Neighbor Policy implemented by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Good Neighbor Policy was a foreign policy enacted in order to engage in equal exchanges with Latin America (“Good Neighbor Policy, 1933.”).The Good Neighbor Policy “opposes any armed intervention in Latin America and aims to reassure the region that the United States will not pursue interventionist policies” (“Timeline: U.S.-Mexico Relations”). In Roosevelt’s 1933 inaugural speech he stated, “I would 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” (“Timeline: U.S.-Mexico Relations”).

Thanks to the implementation of the Good Neighbor Policy, Roosevelt avoided invading Mexico when they eventually nationalized petroleum resources in 1938 in violation of the Bucareli Treaty. Despite their violation of that agreement, the Good Neighbor Policy encouraged better relations between the two countries during World War II. For example, Mexico officially declared war against the Axis Powers “following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor” (“Timeline: U.S.-Mexico Relations”). This benefited the United States by having “Mexican pilots fight alongside the U.S. Air Force” (“Timeline: U.S.-Mexico Relations”) during World War II. By 1944 Mexican-American relations were on the uptick when Mexico agreed to “pay U.S. oil companies $24 million plus interest for properties expropriated in 1938” (“Timeline: U.S.-Mexico Relations”). Overall, John Knott’s cartoon, “New International Bridge,” created a snapshot of the multitude of political issues within the 1930’s-era political climate and highlighted how Dwight Morrow was responsible for positively influencing foreign relations.

 
Works Cited

AGUILA, MARCOS T. “Mexico, Great Depression in.” Encyclopedia of the Great Depression, edited by Robert S. McElvaine, vol. 2, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, pp. 612-617. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3404500350/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=d1cb8a92. Accessed 7 Mar. 2018.

“America’s Forgotten History.” NPR, NPR, 10 Sept. 2015, www.npr.org/2015/09/10/439114563/americas-forgotten-history-of-mexican-american-repatriation.

Copeland, Cody. “Mexico–United States Immigration.” Immigration and Migration: In Context, edited by Thomas Riggs and Kathleen J. Edgar, vol. 2, Gale, 2018, pp. 538-543. In Context Series. Gale Virtual Reference Libraryhttp://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3662200109/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=cb0e651b. Accessed 7 Mar. 2018.

“Dwight W. Morrow.” Dallas Morning News, 19 September 1930. Newspaper. 17 April 2018.

“Dwight Whitney Morrow.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 11, Gale, 2004, pp. 190-191. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3404704597/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=c1648282. Accessed 7 Mar. 2018.

Gard, Wayne. “HOT OIL.” GARD, WAYNE, 15 June 2010, tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/doh04.

Keller, Renata. “U.S.-Mexican Relations from Independence to the Present.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, 8 June 2017, americanhistory.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-269

Knott, John. “New International Bridge.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News 19 September 1930. Newspaper. 17 April 2018.

“MORROW APPOINTED AMBASSADOR IN 1927.” New York Times (1923-Current file), Dec 01, 1929, pp. 28, ProQuesthttp://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/docview/104708200?accountid=7118.

“Morrow Papers [Microform], 1877-1933 (Bulk: 1900-1931).” Five College Archivesand Manuscript Collections, www.bing.com/cr?IG=209696B701804E6FB194F060D0B0F13A&CID=272F5C702301600E003257CD22A76166&rd=1&h=7LqyAMqZpA9N1fvkQ0Xd5TMSw3bA2_CLQl-nY9s7VU4&v=1&r=https%3a%2f%2fasteria.fivecolleges.edu%2ffindaids%2famherst%2fma29.html&p=DevEx,5068.1.

“Spindletop.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2010,www.history.com/topics/spindletop.

“Timeline: U.S.-Mexico Relations.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, www.cfr.org/timeline/us-mexico-relations.

Wooster, Robert, and Christine Moor. “SPINDLETOP OILFIELD.” SANDERS, CHRISTINE MOOR and WOOSTER, ROBERT, 15 June 2010, tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/dos03.

 

 

What This Congress Needs

Hoover; appropriations; balance budget
President Herbert Hoover forces Speaker of the House, John Nance Garner, to work on government expenses, the budget, and appropriations.

March 4, 1929: That was the day Herbert Hoover was elected President of the United States. It was also just seven short months before the start of the Great Depression. As unexpected as the Great Depression was, President Hoover thought he knew exactly what needed to happen. He was “confident that the economy would recover quickest without tampering with the Federal Government” (Kennedy). He believed in the traditional American values of individualism, free enterprise, and a decentralized government. Hoover was trying to kill two birds with one stone: cut taxes while also doubling spending for public works programs. Yet while Hoover was President, the country went into the deepest bankruptcy ever experienced. Critics said “he simply could not overcome his fiscal conservatism,” and that, “federal relief programs would undercut core American values with irretrievable negative consequences” (Kennedy).  Speaker of the House, John Nance Garner, attempted to help Hoover by releasing a bill of his own, which caused outrage with President Hoover. Hoover placed tariffs, started corporations, signed bills, and raised the budget significantly but it was not enough to avoid the worst economic downturn in American history.

Right after the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, Hoover asked Congress for a $160 million tax cut while also doubling spending for the construction of public buildings, dams, highways, and harbors (Kennedy). Initially, he was praised for his efforts because they seemed to be working. While citizens were pleased with the efforts made by their President, unemployment was at its highest record levels. Ironically, Hoover was criticized for his efforts on public work projects which were formed to create jobs, but instead it caused more unemployment.

As the Depression worsened, “Hoover failed to recognize the severity of the situation or leverage the power of the federal government to squarely address it” (History). People accused Hoover of being insensitive toward the suffering of millions of Americans who had nothing. He vetoed many bills that some believe would have brought the country out of its hole. During his presidency, he “vetoed thirty-seven bills, of which twenty-one were regular vetoes and sixteen were pocket vetoes” (Senate).

In 1930, Hoover infamously signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff which “virtually closed the [US] borders to foreign goods and ignited a vicious international trade war,” all while the Great Depression was just beginning (Reed). The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was known as President Hoover’s crowning folly during his presidency. One of Hoover’s governing philosophies was limitation of the federal government. When the Great Depression worsened, America was desperately calling for the intervention of the federal government, but Hoover refused, claiming it would be “steps towards socialism” (Hoover). Hoover believed that what the American people wanted from the federal government would help in the short-term but not long-term. Hoover’s way of running a failing nation irritated Democrats and even some in his own political party. He was under great scrutiny to keep this nation above water, but instead it was just sinking deeper and deeper.

At this point, the Dust Bowl was also occurring, a 10-year drought that caused Hoover to recommend large appropriations for loans to rehabilitate agriculture. A large number of farmers were planting crops, to top, which led soil to become too dry with aridity and erosion, which made great swaths of land unsustainable for crops. Hoover was cutting money from other government agencies in order to fulfill the agriculture loss. During this desperate time, if land would had been more sustainable for crops, farmers would have had more jobs.

Although Hoover’s efforts were noted by the general public, many viewed these actions as too little and too late. His plans for saving money failed miserably. When Hoover “took office, the federal budget was $3.1 billion” (The Washington Post). In order to balance the budget, Hoover signed the Revenue Act of 1932 which “increased American taxes greatly” and “further discourage[d] spending” (Romer and Pells). With the hope that the Revenue Act of 1932 would make a difference, the federal government continued to run a budget deficit. Hoover’s “last budget, Fiscal 1933, was $4.6 billion” which was drastic increase in just four years (The Washington Post).

Hoover’s political rival, Speaker of the House, John Nance Garner, had a different approach to balancing the budget. His plan was to enforce a national sales tax, which was not on President Hoover’s agenda. Citizens were getting so fed up with the amount of money the US had lost that they created the “Hoover flag,” which was an empty pocket turned inside out, representing citizens lack of money (Phelps).

President Hoover was a Republican while Speaker John Nance Garner was a Democrat, which automatically caused tension between the two. In the beginning of his term as Democratic Speaker of the House, Garner was known for his more “conservative and independent view of major economic questions” (Kennedy). However, as he grew into his position, he became supportive of federal intervention in economic affairs. In his first few months as Speaker, he tried to cooperate with President Hoover’s economic programs such as the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the Glass-Steagall banking bills.
In order to bring confidence back to businesses, Hoover formed the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. It loaned public money directly to businesses that were struggling, with most of the funds allocated to banks, insurance companies, and railroads. The Glass-Steagall banking bill was an act that separated investment and commercial banking activities (Romer and Pells).

By 1932, however, Garner lost his patience with the lack of change that Hoover had made and he was determined to “repudiate Hoover’s programs” (Senate). Considering Garner’s conservative characteristics as Speaker, Garner became more assertive and offered a federal relief spending bill of his own. “Given his reluctance to offer his own proposals and his long record of opposition to increased government spending,” Garner went against Hoover, whom he had respected his whole professional career (Senate). Hoover immediately vetoed the bill calling it “the most gigantic pork barrel raid ever proposed to an American Congress!” (The Washington Post). After Garner’s efforts to increase government spending, the relationship between Hoover and Garner would never be the same. People were losing money fast and the United States was falling more and more into bankruptcy.

During this time, many cartoons and editorials were being printed in all newspapers regarding the Great Depression and President Hoover. For example, the author of an editorial regarding Hoover and his presidency, “Mr. Hoover Reproves,” in the Dallas Morning News, somewhat favored the efforts of President Hoover and agreed with the lengths to which he had gone for the US (“Mr. Hoover Reproves”). However, the editorial also had a tone of reprimanding the House of Representatives for fiscal irresponsibility: “the House of Representatives [left] undone the things which it ought to have done and in doing things which it ought not to have done” (“Mr. Hoover Reproves”) The editorial mentions the Goldsborough Bill, which initially, “Mr. Hoover paid his respects to” (“Mr. Hoover Reproves”). The Bill stated, “that the average purchasing power” as established by the Department of Labor in the wholesale markets, “shall be restored and maintained by the control of the volume of credit and currency” (Time). Once Hoover learned more about the Goldsborough Bill, however, he responded back to Congress and told them if the measures were to reach him again, he would veto it right away. The editorial primed the reader for understanding current events that were happening when the cartoon, “What This Congress Needs” by John Knott, was published (Knott).

Knott’s illustration depicts President Hoover standing over and holding onto the collar of an obviously distressed looking man who is John Nance Garner. Garner is portrayed writing on three different government papers with the titles “Reduce Government Expenses,” “Balance Budget,” and “Cut Appropriations” (Knott). Those were Hoover’s three main goals during his presidency. President Hoover is saying, “Do the job right, or else—” with a stern look on his face (Knott). He is depicted as a tall and large man compared to the small, timid Garner sitting at the table. Garner represented the House of Representatives as a whole, which explains why Hoover said, “Do the job right, or else—” because the President had lost trust in the Speaker after he a proposed a bill opposing what Hoover believed (Knott).

President Hoover is seen holding a large bottle of castor oil. During the Great Depression many citizens used castor oil as a home remedy for stomach aches. However, people avoided it at all costs because castor oil’s taste was so foul. President Hoover said, “Do the job right, or else,” because no one wanted to drink the oil, so he was threatening Garner (Knott). If Garner did not “do the job right”, according to Hoover, then he was going to make Garner drink the castor oil medicine.

Hoover’s presidency was not what he expected when coming into office. He tried fixing an economically unstable nation by raising the budget, cutting appropriations, placing tariffs, and starting financial aid programs/corporations in the hope of restoring America back to its financial stability and prosperity. Speaker Garner attempted to help the nation on his own, but that was not possible without the support of the President. The cartoon “What This Congress Needs,” and the accompanying editorial helped readers interpret the current events during Hoover’s presidency (Knott). Little did America know that nearly eighty years later, the US would experience another financial crisis, the 2008 Great Recession.

Works Cited:

History.com Staff. “Herbert Hoover.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/herbert-hoover.

Hoover, Herbert. “The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.” Herbert Hoover on the Great Depression and New Deal, 19931-1993. Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, https://www.gilderlehrman.org/content/herbert-hoover-great-depression-and-new-deal-1931%E2%80%931933

Knott, John. What This Congress Needs. 7 May. 1932, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, Austin. Section 2, page 2.

Kennedy, Susan Estabrook. “Hoover, Herbert.” Encyclopedia of the Great Depression, edited by Robert S. McElvaine, vol. 1, Macmillan Reference USA, New York, 2004, pp. 458–465. Gale Virtual Reference Library, link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3404500265/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=6e1f97f5. Accessed 27 Mar. 2018.

“Mr. Hoover Reproves.” Dallas Morning News, 7 May. 1932. Editorial. Section 2, page 2.

Phelps, Shirelle, and Jeffrey Lehman, editors. “Hoover, Herbert Clark.” West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, 2nd ed., vol. 5, Gale, Detroit, 2005, pp. 287–289.Gale Virtual Reference Library, link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3437702155/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=fe1a1eff. Accessed 27 Mar. 2018.

Reed, Lawrence. “The Greatest Spending Administration in All of History.” Mackinac, 1 Jan. 1998, www.mackinac.org/4026.

Romer, Christina D., and Richard H. Pells. “Great Depression.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2 Feb. 2018, www.britannica.com/event/Great-Depression/Sources-of-recovery#ref802198.

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