John Knott depicts the United States crisis regarding labor unions and striking in a cartoon titled “Chronic Disease” for the Dallas Morning News published on March 23, 1937. The image shows a man sitting hunched over with his hands on either side of his face. He appears very burly and very defeated. He has the word “labor” printed across his shirt sleeve. Behind him is a woman wearing an apron. She is on the telephone and has the word “public” printed on her apron. She is speaking into the telephone. Her quotation bubble reads, “Is this Dr. Roosevelt?” The cartoon demonstrates the disparity between government action and the labor unions.
In the United States history, the Great Depression is regarded as one of the worst economic crisis the country had ever seen. The Great Depression spanned from 1929 with the stock market crash until about 1939. Within these ten years,1937-1938 featured a massive spike of unemployment rates and a decline of industrial production rates (Auerbach, “The General Motors Strike”). These declines were greatly related to the labor unions and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (Rosswurm, “Congress of Industrial Organizations”).
The Congress for Industrial Organization (CIO) was formed in November 1935 (Rosswurm, “Congress of Industrial Organizations”) due to an utter need. Companies were overworking and underpaying their employees. (Terrell). Workers congregated into unions and began to fight for a better work environment and more benefits. John L. Lewis along with many others formed the CIO to “organiz[e] framework for [workers’] mobilization and unionization” (Rosswurm, “Congress of Industrial Organizations”). The organization campaigned against employers with strikes and picket lines.
One of the most notable movements that the organization pursued was the sit-down strike movement. A sit-down strike is when workers spontaneously and simultaneously stop working and sit down. The first recorded sit-down strike was in November of 1935 (Smith, “The sit-down strikes”). Because of the strike, the workers involved received what they asked for from their management: higher wages. Other workers noting the success began to partake in the sit-down strike movement. (Smith, “The sit-down strikes”). By the end of 1937, over half a million workers were involved in sit-down strikes. In 1936 and 1937 over 1000 strikes were recorded (Smith, “The sit-down strikes”). These massive strikes stretched for hours at a time and caused loss of production in completely unprecedented ways (Jones, “Labor and politics”). This began to affect the United States as a whole. Trade levels were decreasing and the country was faced with a lot more than simple unemployment.
As a result, President Roosevelt knew that he could not simply allow for the country to self-destruct. He began to implement laws to ban these sit-down strikes and hopefully cause the country to get back on its feet. President Roosevelt received enormous support from the public (Jones, “Labor and politics”). According to author Thomas Jones’ extensive research, the public saw the strikers as “‘housebreakers’ and elected officials [as] ‘policemen’ who ‘should protect [their] rights’”(Jones. “Labor and politics”).
This is very clearly demonstrated in John Knott’s cartoon. The labor unions (represented by the man) are upset because sit-down strikes are forbidden and the general public (represented by the woman) are pleased because government officials are taking action against the labor unions. The woman is speaking into a telephone and is asking if “Doctor Roosevelt” is there. The public is very pleased with Roosevelt’s actions and thus they call him doctor. This title is highly respected and alludes to the fact that doctors prescribe medicine. The allusion is made that Roosevelt is prescribing laws and policies to these “sick and insane” strikers.
The general public’s true feelings are displayed even further in an editorial published in the Dallas Morning News in conjunction with Knott’s cartoon. The editorial titled “General Strike Threat” gives a specific example of a sit down strike that took place in Detroit. The author comments on this strike as “the spread of [an]…epidemic” (“General Strike Threat”). Not only that, the author notes that the continuation of sit down strikes will certainly lead to a “condition of anarchy” (“General Strike Threat”) in the United States. The author further addresses the ‘epidemic’ by writing about foreign countries’ approaches to striking (“General Strike Threat”). These examples of foreign countries are used to exemplify the perceived excellence in President Roosevelt’s action towards the United States sit down strikes.
John Knott analyzes two sides in his cartoon. He looks at how the labor unions felt towards the sit-down strikes and showcases that with the slumped over union worker and looks at how the general public feels and showcases that with the woman calling ‘Doctor Roosevelt.’
Auerbach, Jerold S. “Sit-Down: The General Motors Strike of 1936–1937. By Fine Sidney. Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Press, 1969. Pp. Ix 448. $12.50.” Business History Review, vol. 44, no. 2, 1970, pp. 259–260., doi:10.2307/3112371
Cartoonist A.F. Branco published a cartoon titled “Minimum Wage Rage” for the Liberty Alliance organization in 2013 that depicts a man ordering a meal at a fast food restaurant. He is complaining about the high price of a hamburger meal to the cashier. The cashier notes that although the price is high, at least he, the cashier, is making fifteen dollars per hour. There is another worker in the background upset that he was just laid off from his job.
This cartoon is about the protests that began in 2013 in the United States regarding the minimum wage. The United States minimum wage was set at $7.25 in 2009. Americans have found that this hourly wage, which many are forced to live off, is insufficient. Minimum wage workers work on average 40 hours a week (“What are the Annual Earnings”). This pay translates to $290 a week (based off of the federal minimum wage) not including taxes. With roughly 4 weeks in each month, the average worker makes a little more than $1,000 a month. This is where problems arise. The average rent in the United States is about $1,200 a month (Glink, “Top 10 Cheapest Cities”). The average worker cannot afford this based on their pay. This is rent alone. Then the cost of food and travel expenses must be accounted for. As a result of this, workers are protesting to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour.
As of 2013, the poverty rate in the United States was approximately 14.5 percent (DeNavas-Walt and Bernadette, “Income and Poverty”). In 2016, the United States poverty rate featured a decline to 12.5 percent (Semega, Fontenot, and Kollar, “United States: 2016). However, despite this obvious decline, living conditions worsen and inflation causes prices to rise for the United States in 2017. Many working class citizens survive off of government issued food discounts and healthcare. The citizens that find themselves in poverty cannot find a way out with current wages (Chiarito, “Hundreds Protest Over Minimum Wage”). Minimum wage workers cannot keep up and demand for wage increases. Labor unions have taken it upon themselves to protest major corporations in hopes that one might listen. In May of 2017, hundreds of fast food workers marched outside the headquarters of fast food giant McDonald’s Corp (Chiarito, “Hundreds Protest Over Minimum Wage”). This protest is just one of many and the labor unions across the United States are not going to stop.
Protests against major corporations have been occurring for decades. In 1937-1938, situations for workers were similar back then to how they are now in the United States from 2013-2017. In 1937, workers were underpaid and congregated into unions to fight for a better work environment as well as benefits. John Knott, a political cartoonist, in 1937 produced several cartoons depicting the struggles workers had to face. He drew one cartoon in particular titled “Chronic Disease” that is similar to A.F. Branco’s cartoon “Minimum Wage Rage.”
John Knott depicts the United States crisis regarding labor unions and striking in a cartoon titled “Chronic Disease” for the Dallas Morning News published on March 23, 1937. The image shows a man sitting hunched over with his hands on either side of his face. He appears very burly and very defeated. He has the word “labor” printed across his shirt sleeve. Behind him is a woman wearing an apron. She is on the telephone and has the word “public” printed on her apron. She is speaking into the telephone. Her quotation bubble reads, “Is this Dr. Roosevelt?” The cartoon demonstrates the disparity between government action and the labor unions in that the President Roosevelt banned sit down striking and the labor unions were highly upset.
The cartoon depicting the fast food workers connects very easily to John Knott’s cartoon. Both demonstrate the effects of the government action on the working class. In Knott’s cartoon, the government restricts the working class by banning sit down strikes and in Branco’s cartoon the government restricts the working class by having a low minimum wage.
A.F. Branco’s cartoon depicts the struggle minimum wage workers and labor unions have had against the government in attempting to raise the minimum wage in the 2013-2017 era.
Chiarito, Bob. “Hundreds protest over minimum wage at McDonald’s stockholder meeting.” Reuters, 24 May, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-wages-protest/hundreds-protest-over-minimum-wage-at-mcdonalds-stockholder-meeting-idUSKBN18K2EB
DeNavas-Walt, Carmen and Proctor D. Bernadette. “Income and Poverty in the United States in the United States: 2013.” Census,16 Sept. 2014, https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2014/demo/p60-249.html
In 1938, seventy-three New Mexico members of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) were indicted on charges of graft and corruption. In the following investigation, law enforcement alleged that New Mexico Senator Dennis Chavez operated a system of patronization and nepotism through abuse of his senatorial powers, including the questionably legitimate employment of seventeen of Chavez’s relatives in his division of the WPA (Chavez, Dennis). Such an abuse of power motivated Chavez’s fellow New Mexico senator Carl Hatch to draft a 1939 reform bill addressing the involvement of government employees in partisan politics known as the Hatch Act.
In “How the Workers Will Enjoy It!”, Dallas Morning News political cartoonist John Knott illustrates his belief that the Hatch Act carried positive effects for the lives of government employees in the late 1930s despite initial opposition from the political establishment.
The Hatch Act limited the possible participation of government employees in local and national elections by blocking their financial contributions to political campaigns (Porter). Along with inhibiting their direct involvement, the Hatch Act also prohibited solicitors from approaching workers for campaign funds as well as making it illegal to fire said workers for their political allegiances and voting preferences.
Knott’s cartoon depicts the intended effect of the Hatch Act via the literal representation of the newly legislated barrier between government employees – characterized by the extremely content man in the foreground completing his work unbothered by the canvassing suffered previously – and the campaign side of government – personified by the cigar puffing gentlemen standing in the background reading articles titled “Subscription to Campaign Fund” and “Instructions – How to Vote.” The politicians wear boater hats and striped bordeaux blazers, traditional bourgeoisie garb, while the worker dresses much more relatably in a plain button-down shirt and an accounting visor. Additionally, the men in the back appear overweight and smoke cigars (two more tokens of the upper class) while the employee sits rail thin and sucks on a pipe. These both bolster the portrayal of the campaign financiers as wealth-obsessed and cause the audience to identify more with the worker, a tactic which illustrates the wide-reaching nature of the Hatch Act as well as unconsciously attracting the public’s sympathy toward the workers and supporting Knott’s positive view of the bill.
The cartoon’s accompanying editorial, “Political Reform Bill,” elaborates on the reluctance of the political establishment to endorse the Hatch Act. At the time, the end of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second term crept on the horizon as the president geared up for a third campaign. Although unable to publicly condemn the bill due to its popularity and agreement with his own reform-based platform, Roosevelt’s administration tried multiple times to cripple it by attaching various esoteric conditions and riders in an attempt to stop the law from hindering the president’s reelection. Although the general election stayed mostly unaffected, the Hatch Act had potentially revolutionary effects on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions by “[preventing] any administration in power from writing a platform and picking a candidate by packing the nominating convention with postmasters, district attorneys, collectors of internal revenue, and other federal office holders” (“Political Reform Bill”). Despite the opposition, Roosevelt signed the bill into law on August 2, 1939 (Porter).
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality on two separate occasions in 1947 and 1973 and the law protected the employment of government employees during the McCarthy era (Paradise). The Hatch Act remained unamended until 1993 when Bill Clinton signed the Hatch Act Reform Amendments of 1993, allowing federal employees to manage political campaigns (Porter). Due to its foundation in constitutional principles and sound logical structure, the Hatch Act proved one of the most effective political reform laws of the 20th century.
History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives, “Chavez, Dennis,” http://history.house.gov/People/Detail/10875. November 16, 2017.
Knott, John. “How the Workers Will Enjoy It!.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News, 31 July 1939: 2. Web.
Paradise, Lee Ann. “Hatch Act.” St. James Encyclopedia of Labor History Worldwide, edited by Neil Schlager, vol. 1, St. James Press, 2004, pp. 415-418. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3408900127&it=r&asid=7ea3901b2178576ac1db44f99cc92cdb. Accessed 7 Oct. 2017.
“Political Reform Bill.” Dallas Morning News, 31 July 1939, p. 2.
Porter, David L. “Hatch Act.” Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, 3rd ed., vol. 4, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003, pp. 103-104. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3401801858&it=r&asid=5a20cf84bb2588b9b2fbb925367456f7. Accessed 7 Oct. 2017.
Sharp, J. Michael. “Hatch, Carl Atwood (D).” Directory of Congressional Voting Scores and Interest Group Ratings, 4th ed., vol. 1, CQ Press, 2006, p. 685. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX2142801118&it=r&asid=677216840af4ea453ae3aace3936cf1e. Accessed 8 Oct. 2017.
The Star of Bethlehem and the Wise men by John Knott depicts a seemingly “peaceful” resolute to the Little Steel Strike of 1937, which was a violent eruption of outrage from decades of tensions between the unionized, to the de-unionized, to the then again re-unionized steel industry. These eruptions particularly dealt with steel firms in the late 1930s dubbed as “Little Steel,” because they were smaller than the U.S. Steel Corporation. The cartoon depicts the worker now holding the more modern and civil idea of a “40-hour week, pay increase and collective bargaining,” in his own hand, this is an important commentary that is developed through the use of a commonly recognized biblical symbol, the star of bethlehem. Knott portrays his viewpoint of Bethlehem Steel’s resolution of the Little Steel Strike of 1937, particularly by utilizing the idea of ‘wise men’ that is personified as the men seen in this cartoon labeled ‘Employer’ and ‘Worker,’ and of peace, as seen through the genial nature of the two men’s handshake and expression.
Beginning in the 1870s the steel industry began to take shape, and nearly immediately The Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers, the first national union to include steelworkers, formed in 1876 (Rees 544). However the main issue with the union was that it remained exclusively powerful only in the iron industry. The Amalgamated Association lost major power in the steelmaking industry during the Homestead Lockout of 1892. Carnegie Steel, the largest firm in the world at that time, began to sabotage competition by starting conflicts and strikes to better compete with rival union companies. This eventually lead one of the most famous incidents in American labor history, the gun battle between Pinkerton guards and strikers in 1892 (Rees 544). With much unrest and the union’s inability to salve the violent conflicts, The Amalgamated Association dissipated by 1901. By 1909, U.S. Steel and other major firms were practically union free, allowing for vulnerable and unprotected steelworkers at the mercy of greedy, industrialist steel firms at the turn of the century. John L. Lewis, an American Congressman, formed the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) to get the American Federation of Labor to accompany and protect steelworkers and others who were not protected by a Union. In 1936, Lewis appointed Philip Murray, United Mine Workers vice president, as the head of the SWOC. This institution became a vital lifeline for those who worked in the steel industry, especially since U.S. Steel recognized the SWOC without retaliation in 1937 (Rees 546). However, “Little Steel” firms did not recognize the union’s demands, thus strikes arose against these individual corporations, and their deadly and violent tendencies defined this uneasy period until the coercive power of congress and FDR were able to amend the issues. By the end of World War II, almost every steelworker in America was represented by SWOC’s successor, The United Steelworkers of America, drawing an end to nearly half a century of violent uproars against the oppressive and powerful steel corporations.
Bethlehem Steel, a “Little Steel corporation,” was a major steel firm that dominated the American Economy from the early to mid 20th century. Bethlehem Steel purchased and restructured the Lackawanna Steel Company in 1922, doubling its production capacity and becoming the second-largest steel corporation in the United States. Still to this day it is difficult to name a famous building that wasn’t constructed by Bethlehem Steel. In New York City, many iconic buildings and structures can be named such as the Woolworth building, the Chrysler building, the Lincoln Tunnel, and Madison Square Garden. In San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is a major icon that was birthed by Bethlehem steel. And in Washington, D.C., the Supreme Court building is another recognizable example (Ferrara 42). Bethlehem steel, as powerful as it was however, vigorously fought back against the SWOC until late february of 1937, when war-time demands and pressure from the National Labor Relations board forced the steel firm to cave to the ultimatums of their steelworkers. Prompting the cartoon displayed above.
John Knott, was a Dallas Morning News cartoonist from 1905 to the mid 1950s (Perez 1). He played an important role as commentator and humorist on major national and Texas specific issues during his career. The Little Steel Strike of 1937 was one of those major issues. As seen above, the most prominent and most easily understood images are the large star in the sky, the words “peace,” two men titled “employer” and “worker,” and a large steel mill in the background titled “Bethlehem Steel.” There are obvious biblical allusions, such as the “Star of Bethlehem,” which is largely applicable because of the parallel between the name of the corporation and the birthplace of Jesus and to the cartoon’s audiences’ national sense of religious morality that was widely apart of American Society in the early 20th century. The cartoon also serves as Knott’s viewpoint on the peacefulness and of the new beginnings that were brewed from the deal that Bethlehem steel struck up with their workers. Another reason Knott probably chose to use biblical allusions for capturing this situation is because in the 1930s, large steel firms seemed to have this god-like power over the livelihood of their employees, which justifies the idea of violent uproars by the steelworkers against the bearers of their fate. Knott also utilizes the idea of “wise-men,” as mentioned in the title, to editorially praise the men involved and claim their resolution as not only common sense but wise. The Little Steel Strike, was horribly violent, making this image a juxtaposition against the understood chaos that these events entailed, which is important to understanding how revolutionary this resolution between employer and worker truly is.
Overall, through the ebb and flow of the relationship between the employer and worker in the steel industry in the early 20th century, and through deadly trials and tribulations, there is still a hopeful image of resolution that beckons a sense of new beginnings, peacefulness, and common sense that is depicted by John F. Knott.
“Bethlehem Steel Corporation.” Corporate Disasters: What Went Wrong and Why, edited by Miranda H. Ferrara and Michele P. LaMeau, Gale, 2012, pp. 42-44. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX4020500019&it=r&asid=89be82520b2ea4e993b8c33628615967. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017
Canedo, Eduardo F. “Little Steel Strike.” Encyclopedia of the Great Depression, edited by Robert S. McElvaine, vol. 2, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, pp. 584-585. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3404500332&it=r&asid=8b076c129bf09ed7dd11d8f66aa8a344. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
In the 1920’s and 1930’s, the United States automotive industry saw the development of innovative engineering in automobiles such as semi-automatic transmissions, hydraulic brake systems, and engines with more and more cylinders. Fatal car accidents and traffic safety caught the attention of legislators in Texas and all over the country during that time. In the late 1930’s, politicians and their constituents feared that older cars posed a large threat to public safety. However, few people realized the overwhelming threats were actually new high-speed cars combined with people’s reckless driving and disregard for traffic laws.
The political cartoon by John Knott titled, “Should Be Retired With Unsafe Cars”, published on February 27, 1938, in the Dallas Morning News, illustrates the undeniable danger reckless drivers and high-speed sports cars manufactured at the time posed for passengers in other vehicles as well as pedestrians. In the cartoon, a man in a suit and tie labeled “Chronic Wild Driver” is illustrated in a sports car driving away from a crash where two people are left on the ground. One of the victims of the crash appears to be crawling away from the crash as he looks in the direction of the reckless driver, while the other victim is left lying on the ground unconscious or dead. The wild driver appears to be driving a 1938 BMW 328 Sports Coupe (Goodwood Revival). Released in 1938, the car was among the finest of its class at the time with a 6 cylinder, 4-speed manual engine and a then astonishing top speed of 93 miles per hour. Even in 1999, the car was a finalist for the “Car of the Century” award by a worldwide panel of automotive journalists (Law).
The title of Knott’s cartoon, “Should Be Retired With Unsafe Cars” directly correlates to the editorial that was published in the same edition of Dallas Morning News; the editorial, titled “Logical Car Retirement” is written in line with public opinion at the time and focuses on the danger of older cars and their increased likelihood of breaking down or losing brake control in a highway. Although the main focus of the editorial is older cars, it does state that, “admittedly, the major portion of fatal accidents (was) in the new and high-speed car class.” By illustrating a high-end sports car in the cartoon, Knott appears to have agreed with this point, however, Knott labeled the man in the car a “Chronic Wild Driver” expressing his belief that cars were not only the ones to blame.
At the time, the development of car safety features was almost nonexistent compared to the development of faster engines (World Health Organization). Because of this, Texas began to establish laws that regulated certain driving habits, instating it’s first mandatory drivers license examination in 1937 (U.S. Department of Transportation). The original driver’s license law of Texas took effect on February 14, 1936, and required each driver to possess a license issued by the County Tax Collector.Unfortunately, these early public safety laws did little to stop the massive loss of lives. During that time, cars became a typical household item. Vehicle ownership in the United States rose 150.44% from 1920 to 1930 (Davis).
In the U.S. in the late 1930’s, legislation was passed with the intention of making highways safer. However, these laws did not have a large impact on people’s driving habits at the time (Gibson and Crooks 453). At the time, people’s driving habits were predominant over their attention to traffic laws. The journal article, “A Theoretical Field-Analysis of Automobile-Driving” by James J. Gibson and Laurence E. Crooks explores the human behavior and self-awareness while driving. The article states that of the skills demanded by contemporary civilization, driving an automobile is the most important to humans because a defect in it has the greatest threat to our lives. Furthermore, in 1938, the sense that traffic laws were absolute agreed with the act of dangerous driving (467).
The need for more driver’s education in the public school system at that time was overwhelming (470). Additionally, the public needed to gain a common attention to the danger they were causing themselves through their ignorant driving habits. The mixture of chronic wild drivers and fast cars was detrimental to the highway safety of Texas in the late 1930’s and in his cartoon, John Knott emphasizes the danger of this combination.
Davis, Stacy C. Transportation Energy Data Book. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2013.
Department of Public Safety records. Texas Department of Public Safety, 1931.
Gibson, James J., and Laurence E. Crooks. A Theoretical Field-Analysis of Automobile-Driving. 1938.
Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015: Supporting a Decade of Action. World Health Organization, 2013.
Heck, Katherine E., and Keith C. Nathaniel. “Driving Among Urban, Suburban and Rural Youth in California.” University of California.
Highway Statistics, Summary to 1995. PDF ed., U.S. Department of Transportation, 1997. Federal Highway Administration Office of Highway Information Management.
Hugill, Peter J. Good roads and the automobile in the United States 1880-1929. PDF ed., Geographical Society, 1982.
Knott, John. Should Be Retired With Unsafe Cars. 27 Feb. 1938, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, Austin.
Law, Alex. “Car of the Century.” Auto123, 22 Dec. 1999, web.archive.org/web/20060308141111/http://www.auto123.com/en/info/news/news%2Cview.spy?artid=1082.
“Logical Car Retirement.” Dallas Morning News, 27 Feb. 1938. Editorial.
The political cartoon “What Price Freedom of the Seas” by John Knott illustrates the struggle between the general public and politicians in the United States (U.S.) during the years preceding World War II. Opposing interpretations of the ideology: Freedom of the Seas, caused much debate between people who were against the war, but for commerce, and people who were against both. In the U.S.’s best interest to stay out of the war, Neutrality Acts were passed which allowed U.S. ships to be neutral against belligerent nations, and continue trade with both allied and hostile nations alike under the ideology: Freedom of the Seas. Many of the people in the Senate were Isolationists (people who were against any foreign contact/conflict) including Hiram Johnson who also was an advocate for free trade. The accompanying editorial to the cartoon, “Senate Neutrality Bill” brings in the differing viewpoints on the issue of Freedom of the seas. People recognized that the ideology was crucial for trade and geo-political control over the seas for the U.S., but the continuation of embargos was highly disputed especially after WWI where hostile nations attacked neutral American ships aiding Britain. The editorial compared the leadership during 1937 under Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) to a past president’s ideology with foreign nations: “Speak softly and carry a big stick” -Theodore Roosevelt. This ideology and later policy meant negotiating peacefully with foreign nations while simultaneously intimidating them with a big stick (military power).(Big Stick Diplomacy 132) This comparison is critical of FDR’s decision to continue trade while intimidating opposing forces with a “big-stick” as “a more timorous leader would stop trade at once in order to avoid trouble-making incidents” (Dallas Morning News) The different interpretations of the ideology “Freedom of the Seas” led to contradictory actions, unsuccessful neutrality acts, and an eventual entrance into the war just four years after Knott’s cartoon was published.
Knott’s 1937 cartoon depicts only two characters: Hiram Johnson and Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam holds a piece of paper tallying the number of wounded and killed during World War I and the amount of debt accrued to the United States (U.S.) after the war ended. He has a disappointed expression on his face as he sadly puts his hand on Hiram Johnson’s shoulder who raises his fist and exclaims: “I believe that a nation’s commerce is its lifeblood and that we should insist upon our rights under International Law!” In Johnson’s hand he strongly holds onto a poster with the words “Freedom of the Seas” written on the side.
Hiram Johnson was a Republican U.S. senator in California from the years 1917 to 1945. Although Johnson took progressive positions in domestic affairs, he was an isolationist – strictly against getting involved in foreign affairs. He was against signing the Treaty of Versailles, and joining the League of Nations under Woodrow Wilson, but he helped endorse FDR’s New Deal. He was a big name and had a big voice in the isolationist movement. He was one of the few progressive republicans who was in favor of FDR, so when he chose to be in favor of the Neutrality Acts, he had much influence due to being favored by both Democrats and Republicans. FDR originally opposed the Neutrality legislation, but eventually approved the acts because of both parties agreeing, and his re-election on the horizon. Johnson tried to stay out of foreign conflict until the end of his career: “Although Johnson had been an outstanding Progressive governor, by the time of his death on Aug. 6, 1945, his views on foreign affairs made him part of an outdated isolationist minority in Congress.” (Hiram Warren Johnson 300) As a stylistic choice, Hiram Johnson was drawn heavier in the political cartoon. This portrayed the greediness of his statement in the cartoon to continue free trade while many citizens strongly predicted it would lead to war.
The U.S. firmly believed in having neutral waterways for commerce to continue, this protection in the seas is rooted in the ideology of “Freedom of the Seas.” In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, while many countries were being colonized, some nations also wanted control of the seas surrounding their land. They enforced their power with naval force and bases at canals. (Rappaport 111) However, many of these nations believed the seas to be free like air: “Queen Elizabeth I of England proclaimed: ‘The use of the sea and air is common to all; neither can any title to the ocean belong to any people or private nation fought for free water travel, beginning with Thomas Jefferson, who enacted the Jefferson Embargo Act of 1803 (mentioned in the editorial as a parallel to the need for free water travel and commerce in 1937). The Embargo Act prohibited U.S. ships from going into foreign ports. This was to compel French and English ships from interfering with American merchant ships while they were in the Napoleonic Wars (a war over French expansion). This act eventually backfired and negatively impacted the U.S. economy until it was repealed. (Embargo Act (1807) 379) Freedom of the Seas was declared by London in 1908 as an unofficial agreement with allied and enemy nations, but no belligerent nations ratified it thus not binding them to it during World War I. “Upon the outbreak of war the United States called for a de facto observation of the Declaration of London.” (Young) The ideology was never set in international law except for small treaties between allied nations. As years went on this ideology was disputed in many nations, the U.S. being extremely for it, especially Hiram Johnson who used this ideology to continue to trade while war went on. It’s very contradictory that he was an isolationist that wanted to continue foreign trade at the cost of inevitably entering war.
Uncle Sam holds a sign with the debt owed to the U.S. after World War I and the number of American soldiers killed or wounded during the war. (Schuker 542) The expression on Uncle Sam’s face symbolizes the disappointment much of the public had in the Senate’s interpretation of Freedom of the Seas. Many people in both the general public, and in political chairs wanted to avoid war at all costs, as the war only 20 years prior to this cartoon was World War I, which was detrimental to the U.S. as a whole. Although many politicians knew about how devastating the past war was, they continued to push for free trade, which many people disagreed with as that would most likely lead to war. Due to there being no international law for free trade, and America simply enforcing it with a “big-stick” initiative, it was only a matter of time before hostile nations attacked U.S. ships bringing resources to friendly nations. This violation of the ideology would most likely bring the U.S. into the war. Robert Lansing, (Legal Advisor to the State Department at the beginning of World War I and later the Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson) compared the neutrality of 1937 to the neutrality of 1915 (World War I) due to the U.S. establishing itself as a neutral power, but eventually being brought into both wars because of belligerent nation violation of free waterways. (Lansing)
After World War I, the need to stay out of war in 1937 expanded into the Isolationist viewpoint (originated in 1934 in the Nye Committee). The main idea of Isolationism was avoiding alliances and conflict with all foreign nations completely. In 1934, there was speculation that the entrance into the World War I was for profit instead of good ethics. Created by the U.S. Senate, this committee investigated business leaders who were suspected of manufacturing supplies and trading with belligerent nations. “Committee members found little hard evidence of an active conspiracy among arms makers, yet the panel’s reports did little to weaken the popular prejudice against “greedy munitions interests.” (Schlesinger) This viewpoint was driven by Hiram Johnson in 1937, however his drive for free trade with belligerent and allied nations contradicted part of the Isolationist viewpoint, confounding the original ideology.
The Neutrality Acts, passed between 1935 and 1939, were the main catalysts of the cartoon and editorial because they allowed trade to continue between the U.S. and hostile nations. Congress passed four acts that limited American involvement in the ongoing war on the Seas and in Europe (Delaney 66). “[The Neutrality Act of 1935] banned all arms and ammunition shipments to belligerent nations and placed America’s armaments industry under federal control for six months.” (Delaney 66) As the four acts came out they edited the previous acts, usually strengthening them. The 1937 act had a “cash-and-carry” provision, allowing the U.S. to supply belligerent countries resources if they paid in cash and guaranteed that the U.S. would not become 9 (the same year the U.S. declared war). The Neutrality Acts were passed to keep the U.S. out of the war, but the inclusion of enforcing free trade with these acts ultimately made them unsuccessful as belligerent nations infringed upon the notion of “Freedom of the Seas” and attacked vessels sent to friendly nations.
The editorial “Senate Neutrality Bill” expressed the differing viewpoints groups of people at the time. The two options debated by citizens were: to completely end trade “… a more timorous leader would stop trade at once to avoid trouble-making incidents.” (Senate Neutrality Bill) While the other option was to continue the embargos under the Neutrality Acts because commerce and geo-political control in the seas was the lifeblood of the nation. Citizens, knew that free trade was vital, but they predicted it would lead to conflict “Yet embargoes create an international antagonism that may form the prelude to conflict.” Isolationists wanted nothing to do with any foreign nation. Hiram Johnson wanted free trade under the pretext of Freedom of the Seas, but he did not want to enter a war. The ultimate decisions made by FDR and the Senate couldn’t satisfy all of these viewpoints and this angered many people. Articles were written by regular citizens calling out the acts for not giving the citizens a choice and calling the neutrality a “compound of ignorance, timidity, and ignorant isolationism.” (Peace act). Although many of these people interpreted Freedom of the Seas differently, the ideal outcome as stated in the editorial, would be peace.
“What Price Freedom of the Seas” by John Knott illustrates how Hiram Johnson believed that through the Ideology of Freedom of the Seas and the upkeep of its principles through force or a “big stick” America should’ve been allowed to continue free trade with any nation. This greed made him blind to the possibility of conflict happening due to this continued trade, as it had happened before in 1807. Many citizens and politicians recognized the problem of continuing trade especially after the tragedies of World War I “We have grown older: we have burnt our fingers in war: we would like to keep the peace.” (Senate Neutrality Bill) The actual decisions made in the Senate eventually led to the U.S. entrance into World War II. The idea of Freedom of the Seas has been debated since ships were able to travel across the oceans. Many regions around the globe have had treaties signed to ensure power over their portion of the ocean while other nations pushed for complete neutrality of the seas (U.S. being one of these nations). Today, 57 years after the cartoon was published, Freedom of the Seas is set in international law: Freedom of Navigation, but the differing interpretations still exist, which may lead to miscommunication and conflict.
“Big Stick Diplomacy.” Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History, edited by Thomas Riggs, 2nd ed., vol. 1, Gale, 2015, pp. 132-133. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3611000096&it=r&asid=e50dd9ad437cd28effb3d2d4e51265db. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.
Delaney, David G. “Neutrality Acts.” Major Acts of Congress, edited by Brian K. Landsberg, vol. 3, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, pp. 66-69. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3407400231&it=r&asid=5857bae0871ce8e2105ea29c237e5a36. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.
“Embargo Act (1807).” Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History, edited by Thomas Riggs, 2nd ed., vol. 1, Gale, 2015, pp. 379-381. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3611000275&it=r&asid=04f56b30da03c843f1df9631a1d454b4. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.
“Hiram Warren Johnson.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 8, Gale, 2004, pp. 300-301. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3404703347&it=r&asid=40aa2a37ec20e231ef4e2ec6ad2c5a76. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.
Knott, John. “What Price Freedom of the Seas.” Dallas Morning News. 5 March 1937.
Rappaport, Armin, and William Earl Weeks. “Freedom of the Seas.” Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, edited by Richard Dean Burns, et al., 2nd ed., vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, pp. 111-122. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3402300066&it=r&asid=63c0fb9915224211a6b2b41f192d9311. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.
Schuker, Stephen A. “World War I War Debts.” Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, 3rd ed., vol. 8, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003, pp. 542-543. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3401804606&it=r&asid=393cc8c39279d947d296ff78adc127b8. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.
Young, Jr., James Leroy: Freedom of the Seas , in: 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2014-10-08. https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/freedom_of_the_seas
In John Knott’s political cartoon, Dirty Work (published March 15th, 1937), the intentions of France and Germany to sway Russia in their favor are depicted as climbers on a mountain. France is pulling Russia towards a renewed alliance with Britain, while Germany lies in wait to sever the ties between them.
“On June 28, 1914, a Serbian nationalist assassinated the presumptive heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. A month later, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. One by one, the European powers were dragged into the conflict” (Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. History: War). World War I, the international conflict between the Allied powers of France, Britain, Russia, Italy, and the United States and the Axis powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria would critically change relations between European countries. In 1907, Britain, France, and Russia had already formed an understanding known as the Triple Entente. Italy decided to join the Entente in 1915 instead of siding with Germany. Prior, France and Russia formed a cordon-sanitaire, or agreement, to protect one another in 1914. This group of nations was powerful opposition to the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria. The two opposing sides continued fighting until Germany signed an armistice in November of 1918 (Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. History: War). Despite the agreement for peace, Germany remained bitter and relations between European nations became extremely strained.
A year after the close of World War I, tensions between countries remained high. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles was signed by the Allies and a reluctant Germany. The agreement dictated that Germany’s Rhineland region would be occupied by an Ally army in order to ensure French security. Angered with the troops stationed so close to home and a part of everyday life, German citizens grew tired of the presence of Allied troops. When these occupiers attempted to form separatist governments, German citizens began to passively resist. For instance, “workers stayed home, and the civilian population refused to cooperate with the French occupiers” (Merriman and Winter).As tensions rose between the two opposing forces, “the new German foreign minister Gustav Stresemann called off passive resistance and began negotiations with France” (Andrea and Neel). Members of the German foreign office laid the framework for Locarno, an agreement designed to drastically improve relations with the French. Stresemann improved the idea, expanding the pact to include Britain and Italy, guaranteeing the territorial status quo of western Europe. In addition to the peace agreement, there would be no German military presence in Rhineland as a gesture of goodwill. The Locarno agreements were enacted in London in December of 1926.
Despite these agreements temporarily pacifying the opposing countries, the new Nazi Germany and France again butted heads. “In March 1936 Germany sent troops into the Rhineland, which had been demilitarized by the Treaty of Versailles, declaring that the situation envisaged at Locarno had been changed by the Franco-Soviet alliance of 1935” (Britannica). While France argued that this was a direct violation of Locarno, nothing was done, for Britain did not share the same claim. Nazi Germany was a threat looming on the horizon and France’s hope for positive political negotiation was dim. In the accompanying editorial to Dirty Work entitled No Locarno, the desire of both France and Britain to form a new agreement with Germany is discussed as unlikely to come to fruition. Germany refused to put itself in a position to be so easily controlled. New leadership in Germany would not be so cooperative. Stresemann, who had facilitated the creation of Locarno, was replaced as German foreign minister by Nazi Joachim von Ribbentrop. Ribbentrop and Hitler, referred to in the editorial as “fascist Tweedledum and Tweedledee,” looked to entice Britain and France into understandings that Germany had no intention of keeping. For Germany, however, the “bug under the chip,” or something undesirable subtlely attached to something valuable, was the French-Russian cordon sanitaire of 1914 (Editorial). If France was attacked, Russia would come to its aid and vice versa. While Nazi Germany was ambitious, it would not be able to survive an attack on two fronts from both Russia and France. Thus, the relations between Russia and France needed to be eliminated in the interest of Germany. Nazi Germany also had to entice Britain and France into an agreement OUTSIDE of the League of Nations, the international organization formed between countries after World War I. Both France and Britain wanted the backing of this organization and the countries that participated in it. Germany’s main goal then was to sever the ties between Russia and France.
John Knott’s political cartoon Dirty Work depicts the goals of the various nations through characterization of France, Russia, and Hitler as climbers on a mountain. While Hitler is portrayed as himself, France and Russia are sketched as what one might assume the typical Russian or French person to look like. France and Russia are tethered together with a rope that represents the cordon sanitaire between the two. Hitler, hoping to cut the tie between France and Russia, hides just around the corner with a knife. If the rope were cut, Russia would fall without something to support it. In 1937, Russia was going through the Great Purge, a period of political oppression under the Soviet Union. It was on the verge of collapse with no external stimulus (Rittersporn). Hitler’s knife would not only sever its ties but allow Russia to run itself into the ground. The knife, while not drawn to represent a physical act in 1937, eventually became the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939, ending the cordon sanitaire as Russia and Germany promised to not counter the actions of one another. With this in place, Germany waited a single week before invading Poland, a country under the protection of France and Britain. Thus, World War II began.
It is evident that no treaty is perfect. There are always concessions to be made and hard lines to be drawn. What is vital to the future of peace between countries is understanding the balance between compromise, necessity, and the importance of working together as opposed to against one another. The inability of nations to bridge the gap between the goals and necessities of each country led to the death of millions. Unfortunately, this lack of meaningful and effective agreements between countries persists today. It is uncertain just how detrimental the effects of current decisions will be on the future of the human race.
Axelrod, Alan. “Ribbentrop, Joachim von (1893–1946) Nazi German foreign minister (1933–1945).” Encyclopedia of World War II, edited by Jack A. Kingston, vol. 1, Facts on File, 2007, p. 689. Facts on File Library of World History. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX4067800556&it=r&asid=eebdb853d57e8646f13df326a8a63383. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
“German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.” Encyclopedia Britannica, edited by The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. 22 Jul 2016. https://www.britannica.com/event/German-Soviet-Nonaggression-Pact
Karabell, Zachary. “Eden, Anthony [1897–1977].” Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, edited by Philip Mattar, 2nd ed., vol. 2, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, p. 755. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3424600873&it=r&asid=8872902e8a07698ec62fcc7c67dcaa3b. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
Knott, John. “Dirty Work.” Dallas Morning News. 15 Mar. 1937.
“Locarno Pact.” World History Encyclopedia, edited by Alfred J. Andrea and Carolyn Neel, vol. 18: Era 8: Crisis and Achievement, 1900-1945, ABC-CLIO, 2011, pp. 583-585. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX2458803623&it=r&asid=99045c1562ff275fc3e1c4c109a04b57. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
Mombauer, Annika. “Alliance System.” Europe 1789-1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire, edited by John Merriman and Jay Winter, vol. 1, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006, pp. 47-50. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3446900030&it=r&asid=023dc0910917a3301c8e3da5b6cffe43. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
“No Locarno.” Dallas Morning News. 15 Mar. 1937.p.5
“Rhineland Occupation.” Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction, edited by John Merriman and Jay Winter, vol. 4, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006, pp. 2217-2221. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX3447000751&it=r&asid=ae5e37e051910a79f9c6de5a484271b2. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
Rittersporn, Gabor T. “Purges, The Great.” Encyclopedia of Russian History, edited by James R. Millar, vol. 3, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, pp. 1247-1251. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?
“World War I (1914–1919).” Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. History: War, vol. 1, Gale, 2008. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX3048500018&asid=6aaa3eab990420667484bc968b96a420. Accessed 15 Nov. 2017.
As workers of the 21st century continue to pursue the fairest and most equal opportunities for their individual careers, the conflict of sex discrimination and fair pay between those powers and authoritative entities have continued. Even with the establishment of the 14th Amendment over a century back, the Supreme Court’s interpretation has shifted. The amendment states there should be no denial to, “any person within its (United States’) jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws (law.cornell.edu).” Unfortunately, there are court cases that discuss the very question of whether or not an individual is given equal protection under laws, which applies to Danziger’s cartoon portrayal of sex discrimination and unfair pay, applying to female employees of Wal-Mart.
Back in 2001, a Wal-Mart employee named Betty Dukes and 5 other women, filed a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart, claiming that they had been employing company-wide discrimination acts against women (cnn.com). The women essentially claimed that it was more difficult for them to get promoted than their male counterparts and that the level of pay for women was inferior. Dukes and the five women who filed the lawsuit represented over 1.5 million women at Wal-Mart, which made it the largest class-action lawsuit in U.S. history (cnn.com). That class action lawsuit didn’t result in a victory for Dukes, however, as the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against it. Danziger’s political cartoon above expresses these results, and emphasizes the crucial relationship of Supreme Court decisions to worker’s rights, in addition to continuous business development.
These women felt as if they were being unfairly treated, which is supported by a clear violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act that was created after the fall of the National Recovery Administration (NRA) in 1935. The Fair Labor Standards Act clearly states that, “The equal pay provisions of the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) prohibit sex-based wage differentials between men and women employed in the same establishment who perform jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility and which are performed under similar working conditions (dol.gov).” Given that, it is apparent that Dukes and the female employees of Wal-Mart have a clear-cut point of reference for defending themselves in the lawsuit.
This occurrence of discrimination also ties into the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which was preceded by a Supreme Court ruling over Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. That decision resulted in employees not being able to take action over discriminatory pay if the pay decision by the employer occurred over 180 days earlier, which frustrated those seeking complete elimination of that discrimination (nwlc.org). A dissenting opinion by Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg in the 5-4 ruling, discussed the need for Congress to take legislative action in order to fully rectify the discrimination conflict occurring in the workplace. Thus, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 came into the worker’s rights equation, which finally assisted and protected workers subject to unfair treatment in the workplace, with anti-discrimination laws and a reset to the 180 day limit to file a claim(nwlc.org). With evidence in play, it was up to the Supreme Court to validate the claim of Dukes and Wal-Mart female employees.
The two justices depicted in the political cartoon above, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, are regarded as two of the more conservative justices among those of the Supreme Court, and voted. Although there may be a public perception of conservatives being less favorable than liberals towards gender issues, the personal history of both Scalia and Thomas provides more insight into his vote in favor of Wal-Mart in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes. During Clarence Thomas’ confirmation process to be a Supreme Court Justice, he was involved in a sex scandal. His former assistant Anita Hill claimed he verbally harassed her with sexual language. The coke can displayed in the political cartoon with Justice Thomas appears to be a reference to this sex scandal, because of the fact that Anita Hill once recalled Thomas asking, “Who has pubic hair on my Coke?(zimbio.com)” This, among other sexual claims by Anita Hill, led to the one of the closest confirmations for a Supreme Court justice over the past couple of centuries, at a 52-48 vote from the U.S. Senate.
In reference to Justice Scalia, there has been controversy on his views towards women, along with his preference for less-restricted business. Scalia’s strict interpretation of the Constitution has etched a negative image of his views towards equal rights, particularly in association with his quote that sex discrimination will basically occur depending on the state of society,”If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, you have legislatures (Cohen).” That interpretation of the constitution is frowned upon because of the equal-protection clause of the 14th amendment, which strived to not deny anyone equal protection of the laws. Also, it gives the perception that sex discrimination acts are changeable based on the state of society. Scalia’s corporate view also correlates to the political cartoon above, in his vote of Wal-Mart over Dukes, with an attempt to assist corporate influence. One way in which he has done this was through halting any restrictions on corporate spending during federal elections, which he believed violated the First Amendment (Cohen).
The political cartoon by Jeff Danziger above, created on June 21st, 2011, depicts two Supreme Court Justices as greeters of Wal-Mart, telling women to get back to work. It’s apparent that the cartoonist views both Justice Scalia and Thomas as the main antagonists of this incident involving women, regarding the court case of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes. Also, Scalia is shown as forcefully kicking a female employee back into the store, and back to work. Justice Thomas is shown holding and looking at a coke can, while clearly irony abounds in these Wal-Mart “greeters” making the women go back in the store to work.
Danziger’s cartoon connects back to the John Knott cartoon of Hatching Another One for the Ax (Knott)and the editorial of Haste Made Waste with a correlation to a deficient business environment and the denial of the Supreme Court in a legal setting. The 5-4 decision against Dukes in the case, occurred because of a lack of any real substance when staking the claim that Wal-Mart was nationally discriminating women and giving less opportunity for promotion. As stated in Justice Scalia’s majority opinion, “it will be impossible to say that examination of all the class members’ claims will produce a common answer to the crucial discrimination question(oyez.org).” This statement asserts not only the lack of legitimate support the women had, but also points to how difficult it is to win against a business of Wal-Mart’s magnitude. The Knott cartoon also includes a Supreme Court restriction in helping out workers. As the Great Depression peaked and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was looking to improve the economic condition in the United States, he announced changes in the form of the New Deal, a set of programs, regulations and acts designed to reconstruct the economy. One of his acts was known as the National Industrial Recovery Act, or NIRA, which was enforced by the National Recovery Administration, or NRA. The goal of the NRA combined with NIRA, was to implement industrial codes that would essentially regulate businesses in a fashion that could simultaneously benefit workers through improved wages, hours worked and working conditions. Unfortunately, the NRA’s lifespan was cut short in FDR’s eyes, as the Supreme Court invalidated it due to legality issues in distribution of power(law-making powers to the president) and the failure to operate successfully. The Knott cartoon portrays FDR’s desire to re-implement an NRA, but the past left a poor mark on that piece of legislation. Ironically enough, the power of big business was increased by the NRA because of such poor regulation on industrial codes, leading to continuous big business power. Thus, not changing the fact that the Supreme Court indirectly helped big business with a denial to a new NRA, similar to how the Supreme Court benefited Wal-Mart with its decision in not granting money to the women of the Dukes lawsuit.
The editorial, Haste Made Waste, in John Knott’s cartoon, references FDR’s desire for wage legislation to be introduced with the NRA, which is essentially what Dukes and the women of Wal-Mart wanted. That said, FDR was given an opportunity to showcase what the NRA could do with its first introduction, but failed. Dukes and the women of Wal-Mart have yet to be given an opportunity to adjust their work environment they way they want it. It’s evident that the business and worker problems of FDR’s era differ from that of today, but the connection in worker’s rights and the branches of related legislation are still prevalent in dictating how business and people will be organized and maintained for future years.
“Hatching Another One for the Ax?” is a political cartoon published on March 4th, 1937 by John Knott, that exemplifies the unconstitutionality conflict between the contents of the National Recovery Administration(NRA) and the Supreme Court. FDR hoped that the new NRA would revitalize the business industry, which was badly damaged by the severity of the Great Depression. The Great Depression was historically considered one of the greatest economic disasters the United States has ever sustained, so understandably, its ripple effects are still in effect. Its magnitude was so noticeable, that it made sense for legislation to be introduced as quickly as possible. It was desirable for legislation to be introduced because the U.S had never encountered such widespread economic disaster in its history. As part of then president FDR’s first 99 days, he implemented the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) on June 16, 1933 (history.com). He also established the National Recovery Administration (NRA) to enforce it. Unemployment rate was one contributing factor to the NRA’s creation, but others included minimum wages, shorter hours, the ability to join labor unions, better working conditions and greater regulation for competition between businesses. The unemployment rate was up to nearly 25% by the time the NIRA was introduced, and by 1933 the economy had produced half as much money as it did only 4 years back ($57 million to $105 million)(history.com).
Within John Knott’s political cartoon, Knott portrayed FDR, the Supreme Court(represented as an old man), and a chicken with a “New NRA” egg under it. FDR appears to be attempting to hide the egg from the Supreme Court in the background, but based on the title of the cartoon, it appears inevitable that Supreme Court will terminate the New NRA as soon as they see it. As expressed in the editorial, Haste Made Waste, the NRA attempted to basically do too much to o fast because of the urgency of the situation, but FDR would still not be given a pass when attempting to produce a new NRA.
The editorial touched on one of the main issues with the introduction of the NRA, which was the debate in the readiness of all the industries for its policies. Roosevelt wanted to do what the steel industry had already done, with regulation over wage and hours. The value of the NRA came into place with its regulation over a more widespread level of industries, thus impacting the economy in a more immediate and in depth fashion. But again, the editorial discussed how difficult it was to put something like that in place, given the failure of the first NRA. That previous failure, combined with the need for economic reinvigoration were the two butting heads in FDR attempting to pass a second NRA(along with the desire for it to be constitutional this time around).
When it first came into existence, the NRA was based on industrial codes that could change the formatting of how business was done. One overarching example of this was the attempt to completely eliminate any chance of monopolies, or one company dominating an entire industry. The NRA preached fair trade and fair competition between business, and went to the lengths of code implementation to reach their goal. What perhaps was underestimated by FDR before he went ahead and installed this code system all across varying industries, was the fact that the regulation aspect of the NRA became exceedingly difficult to accomplish(Buchholz). Bigger name industrialists didn’t like the regulations of the codes that forced minimum wages and shortened hours, so the leadership of the NRA was tested. Companies began to alter codes in their favor, and essentially continued the path of unfair competition that the NRA had hoped to stop in the first place. General Hugh Johnson was the man set in charge of overseeing the NRA, but his lack of awareness clearly forced the NRA downhill. This sequence of events led to the legality conflict that is alluded to in the cartoon (Knott), with the Supreme Court being the only real opposing force in FDR getting away with the “New NRA.”
A couple of points were made by the Supreme Court to invalidate the NRA, but one of the major points revolved around the new law making power of FDR. When the NIRA and NRA began, the codes that FDR basically forced on businesses came across as a power that should only be distributed to members of Congress(Buchholz). That alone, violated a major cornerstone of the U.S. government, in the individual branches knowing their responsibilities and not crossing boundaries. The other point of emphasis by the Supreme Court was Congress’ freedom that they gave to FDR in order to put his codes in place. FDR was essentially given lawmaking powers, which should only ever be in the hands of the legislative branch . Also, Congress had become too involved in interstate commerce, when in reality the states know best on how to regulate their pricing, wages and hours (brittanica.com).
The NRA was eliminated May 27th, 1935, but parts of its legislation continued in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 and Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which stood for the better parts of what the NRA represented, in labor unions, fair pricing, wages and hours. Prior to any regulation, businesses weren’t forced in any way to have an hour limit for their workers, or a set wage. Also, without any labor unions, workers couldn’t establish any control over any of those wage and hour issues they dealt with. Even with these acts created to rectify an economy in bad condition, the long-term effect of something like the Fair Labor Standards Act can be for the worse in modern times(sites.gsu.edu). The reason for this, is because the FLSA was, in short, an act put into place to install a minimum wage and bring more equality to workers through actions such as overtime compensation standards (brittanica.com). Minimum wage is seen as a beneficiary in allowing a certain amount of income to be received by those who are working jobs. However, the ability for the minimum wage to be included in society, paved way for issues to arise in labor unions, like the common desire to raise minimum wages. For example, smaller businesses of today will be forced to close down if the minimum wage is raised from a number like maybe $10 to $15. That amount could be too much money for those individual small businesses to pay their employees, thus initiating a vicious cycle of firing workers and not being able to produce to a high enough level will ensue, hurting the economy. This adjustment is one of the problems associated with how the NRA has left its legacy, but a balance in how workers are treated and how businesses can simultaneously be sustained is still a major goal for future economic growth.
History.com Staff. “The Great Depression.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/great-depression.
In the John Knott political cartoon, “Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go,” which accompanies the editorial “Traffic Schooling” in the Dallas Morning News, the implementation of driver’s education in schools is depicted. There are two prominent figures in the cartoon: one is a woman labelled “School authorities” sitting in a chair and holding a book titled “The Safe Way” while pointing. The other figure is a small boy around elementary school age that the woman is talking to. In the background are two informative posters, one reading “Traffic Rules” with a block of implied text and the other visually showing instructions on how to turn. Knott uses his cartoon to take a critical stance on the implementation of driver’s education, portraying it as excessive or overzealous.
This cartoon depicts the implementation of driver’s education in schools. When automobiles first rose to popularity from 1900 to the 1930s, there was very little regulation due to the novelty of the technology. At first, there were no “stop signs, warning signs, traffic lights, traffic cops, driver’s education, lane lines, street lighting, brake lights, driver’s licenses or posted speed limits” (Loomis), and due to that there were innumerable car accidents. By 1923 alone, there were 100,000 traffic-related deaths and car accidents were the fifth leading cause of death in 1926 (McShane). Over time, safety precautions were added, but up until the 1930s, the death toll was still too high due to the lack of education about driving.
The general public began to pressure lawmakers and school officials into implementing a driving education program for students approaching driving age. Herbert J. Stack, director of the New York University Safety Center, spoke about the need to add driver’s education to the New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers. (School Aid Urged). School officials eventually succumbed to the public pressure, and by the time the Knott cartoon and its accompanying editorial were posted in 1937, there were already 3,000 schools across the nation that had some sort of driver’s education program.
The accompanying editorial itself covers the importance of formal education when teaching adolescents how to drive and proposes ways to incorporate driving classes into high school curriculums, particularly in Texas. The author restates and supports a recommendation by the State Board of Education to provide all students with a textbook outlining the rules of the road and safe driving practices. At the time, driving in Texas was very accessible; the Texas Department of Public safety began to issue free licenses in 1935 (Automobile), so cost was not an issue for anyone seeking to obtain a license. Due to this easy access, it is understandable that citizens would also want new drivers to have easy access to education.
The main indicator of Knott’s critical stance in the cartoon is the age of the child being taught. The boy is obviously not of driving age, not even the range of 14 and 15 where children started driving in rural communities. The reaction intended is to think that it is unnecessary to start teaching children about driving so early. The driver’s education programs did not actually start teaching that early, so the portrayal is a criticism of the programs being excessive. Another indicator of Knott’s criticism is the word choice of the title. “Train” often has a negative connotation as opposed to teach. “Child” is used instead of a more accurate descriptor such as teen or adolescent, which further emphasizes the point about the young age of the child depicted. While Knott’s criticisms may seem unfounded now, it is important to take into consideration what the people of that time period were accustomed to as far as driving regulations went. To suddenly have an onslaught of new rules added where there were none before would be jarring.
The teacher figure in the cartoon is used to represent school authorities, as the label on her jacket tells us. It is notable that Knott felt it necessary to make the distinction between school authority and regular teacher. This was done because it was the school authorities in particular who were pressured to add driver’s education courses by various advocacy groups and societal clubs (Tebeau). The woman appears stern and serious, sitting in a chair while the student is standing and pointing a finger. Her instruction of the boy looks similar to scolding, which is perhaps Knott’s way of scolding those who made driver’s education courses necessary by practicing unsafe driving. The book she is holding is entitled “the Safe Way,” which further emphasises the way that people had been driving up until that point, implied to be the ‘unsafe way’.
The place in the comic where the most similarity can be found with modern driver’s education are the posters in the background. The “Traffic Rules” poster is shown to have a large block of text accompanying it. To the modern viewer, the norm when learning to drive is learning the various traffic that accompany driving. When driver’s education was first being introduced however, the jump from not having to learn any sort of traffic rule to having to learn a huge block of them would have seemed excessive. The things that were taught in driver’s education when it was first introduced were “recognize the pedestrian’s right of way when walking at a cross-walk or at a green light: and all other traffic rules,” (Wentworth) which seems a very obvious and second nature to the modern driver. The use of the word ‘rules’ instead of the modern ‘laws’ shows how much more regulated and enforced modern driving has become.
The diagram next to the “Traffic Rules” poster shows a seemingly simple instruction on how to properly turn. The simplicity suggests that the drivers of that time were so incompetent that they didn’t know how to turn onto another street correctly and needed detailed instructions to accomplish this. It is likely that this is a subtle criticism by Knott about the incompetence of the drivers of the time.
The unsafe driving practices of the early 20th century culminated with societal pressures to the addition of driver’s education courses in schools. The buildup and public outraged shown is similar to the phenomenon of texting and driving in modern times. The amount of accidents and public pressure has built up to where states are now passing legislature with very strict stances on texting and driving.
McShane, Clay. “1899 Automobile Fatalities.” Disasters, Accidents, and Crises in American History: A Reference Guide to the Nation’s Most Catastrophic Events, by Ballard C. Campbell, Facts on File, 2008, pp. 180-182. Facts on File Library of American History. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX4085100098&asid=16e2c60dac4d7f6141d76c9dfcc03ec5. Accessed 19 Oct. 2017.
Tebeau, Mark. “Accidents.” Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood: In History and Society, edited by Paula S. Fass, vol. 1, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, pp. 12-14. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=txshracd2598&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CCX3402800018&asid=e56694d5a48fa15aa193ecd1e2e3d77e. Accessed 19 Oct. 2017.
By E T STRONG, General Sales Manager, Buick Motor,Company. “Efficient Driving Developed as Art Requiring Expertness.” The Washington Post (1923-1954), May 27, 1923, pp. 68, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post, http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/149348020?accountid=7118.