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Posts Tagged ‘Political Cartoons’

America’s First Political Cartoons

A look back at some of the illustrations that graced the pages of Puck magazine, America’s first humor magazine that satirized political and social issues of the day.
National Journal  May 22, 2015

(Joseph Keppler/Puck Magazine/Wikimedia Commons)

This cartoon, «The Modern Colossus of [Rail] Roads,» dated December 10, 1879, depicts New York Central Railroad President Henry Vanderbilt at the center as the most powerful tycoon in the U.S. railroad industry. Standing on his feet are two other powerful industry figures, Cyrus West Field (left), who controlled the New York Elevated Railroad Company, and Jay Gould (right), who controlled the Union Pacific Railroad.

(Frederick Burr Opper/Library of Congress)

Belva Lockwood, the first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court, is pictured here alongside presidential candidate Ben Butler (labeled «B.B.») of the Greenback/Anti-Monopoly Party. In 1884, Lockwood was chosen by the small California-based Equal Rights Party as their presidential nominee, and the media quickly seized upon the news.

(Louis Dalrymple/Library of Congress)

In this June 23, 1897, illustration, the magazine’s recurring character, Puck, (after the word «puckish,» which means childishly mischievous) is handing a bouquet of flowers labeled «1837» and «1897» to Queen Victoria, who is sitting on a throne, holding a scepter, and leaning forward to accept the flowers.

(Udo J. Kepple/Puck Magazine/Wikimedia Commons)

This cartoon, dated March 30, 1898, depicts Richard «Boss» Croker, the head of New York City’s Tammany Hall, as the sun, with politicians and people from various professions revolving around him. With Tammany Hall, Croker controlled one of the most powerful political institutions of his time.

(Louis Dalrymple/Puck Magazine/Wikimedia Commons)

A cartoon, dated May 11, 1898, urging war with Spain over Cuba. A month earlier, the United States had declared war on Spain after the sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898. The bottom of the photo reads, «The duty of the hour: To save her not only from Spain, but from a worse fate.» The Spanish-American War eventually ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 1898, after Spain lost control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, and other islands.

(Wikimedia Commons)

A 1901 cartoon depicting business magnate John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil, one of the world’s first and largest multinational corporations. Rockefeller stands on a podium with his company’s name and wears a crown labeled with the names of major railroads. In 1901, an anarchist assassinated President McKinley and included corporations like Standard Oil among his antitrust rhetoric.

(Udo J. Kepple/Puck Magazine/Library of Congress)

(Udo J. Kepple/Puck Magazine/Library of Congress)

In this illustration from April 1, 1903, Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia, is kneeling on one knee before a pillow, on which rests a scroll of papers labeled «Ukase civil and religious reforms,» with rays of light labeled «Enlightenment» beaming down on him. Nicholas II’s reign marked a turbulent time of immense political change in Russian history, and he and his family were executed on July 17, 1918.

(Udo J. Kepple/Puck Magazine/Library of Congress)

This March 9, 1904, illustration shows steel magnate Charles M. Schwab as Napoleon sitting on a rock in the middle of the ocean, looking back at the setting sun labeled «Business Reputation.» In his hands are papers labeled «Investigation Ship Building Scandal,» and other papers labeled «Steel Trust» are in his coat pocket.

This March 9, 1904, illustration shows steel magnate Charles M. Schwab as Napoleon sitting on a rock in the middle of the ocean, looking back at the setting sun labeled «Business Reputation.» In his hands are papers labeled «Investigation Ship Building Scandal,» and other papers labeled «Steel Trust» are in his coat pocket.

(Frank A. Nankivell/Library of Congress)

A Fourth of July cartoon from 1905 showing a crowd of people celebrating a spinning firework display with the head of Uncle Sam at the center.

(Frank A. Nankivell)

 

This illustration, dated February 2, 1910, shows banker John Pierpont «J.P.» Morgan clutching to his chest large New York City buildings labeled «Billion Dollar Bank Merger.» In the foreground, a young child puts a coin in a «toy bank» and Morgan’s left arm reaches around the buildings to grab it for himself. Three years earlier, during the Panic of 1907, Morgan resolved a banking crisis after major New York banks were on the verge of bankruptcy. The U.S. Federal Reserve System was created following the Panic, which the magazine cover alludes to with its title, «The Central Bank—A look back at some of the illustrations that graced the pages of Puck magazine, America’s first humor magazine that satirized political and social issues of the day.Why should Uncle Sam establish one, when Uncle Pierpont is already on the job?»

(Brynolf Wennerberg)

This illustration, dated July 25, 1914, shows a tall beautiful woman with red hair, wearing a long green dress and a headband with a feather. She is holding up her hands and perched on her fingers are several diminutive male figures who are courting her with bouquets of flowers, bags of money, serenading her, appealing to her, and even threatening suicide.

(Henry Mayer/Puck Publishing Corporation/Library of Congress)

A torch-bearing woman labeled «Votes for Women,» symbolizing the awakening of the nation’s women to the desire for suffrage, strides across the Western states, where women already had the right to vote, toward the East where women are reaching out to her, dated February 20, 1915.

(Rolf Armstrong/Library of Congress)

In this February 20, 1915, illustration, Puck is pictured with a pencil in his hand, next to a woman wearing a uniform and a sash labeled «Votes for Women.»

(Library of Congress)

This cartoon, dated October 9, 1915, «I Did Not Raise My Girl To Be a Voter,» is a parody of the anti-World War I protest song «I Did Not Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier,» with the context altered to women’s suffrage. A conductor labeled «political boss» leads a lone female soloist surrounded by a male chorus with various labels, including «procurer,» «child-labor employer,» and «sweat-shop owner.» Arguments in favor of granting women the right to vote included the contention that female voters would support laws that reduced prostitution, labor abuses, and other social evils.

Annum Masroor

Audience Engagement Fellow

amasroor@nationaljournal.com

Annum Masroor is an audience engagement fellow at National Journal. Previously, she was an intern at The Nation, Salon.com, and Democracy Now!. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.A. in international affairs and Arabic, and from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism with an M.S. in journalism. She is from Savannah, GA.

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