Tag Archives: foreign affairs

Tea for Two

DOC018

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.