Saturday, January 8, 2011

R.C. Bowman's Presidents

Perhaps I should have saved these for Presidents' Day, but here are three cartoons from Rowland Claude Bowman's book of his editorial cartoons from 1900 for the Minneapolis Tribune. I start with a cartoon of former president Grover Cleveland:

Grover: "Dad-rat-it, I've hooked a bullhead."
The fish is labeled "Gold Democrat Presidential Nomination 1900."

In addition to being the only U.S. President to serve two non-consecutive terms (and here, apparently, there were people who thought he should serve three of them), Cleveland holds the distinction of being the only Democratic president between James Buchanan (1857-1861) and Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921).

As such, he also holds the distinction of being the only Democratic U.S. president to sport facial hair while in office.

I've already blogged these next two cartoons. The book I have was published during the term of William McKinley, so it's kind of surprising that there aren't several cartoons of him:

Rah! Rah! Mac-Kin-Lee! Roosevelt! Roosevelt! G.O.P.!

The book contains more cartoons which include future president Teddy Roosevelt than there are of the incumbent:

They get real mad at Teddy for getting "solid" with the Dakota girls.

I was interested to find that while Google Books does not have the book I do, they do have The Minneapolis Cartoon Book for 1902: Being a Collection of Over 100 Cartoons by R.C. Bowman. Given that Bowman died in 1903, theirs is probably the last Bowman book.

Since Google has posted the entire book on line, I won't copy it here, but I do find a couple things of interest about the 1902 book, which covers the year 1901.

President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, but there is no cartoon about it in the book.* According to a review in Public Opinion (which I'll reference below), Bowman's cartoons appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune almost daily, so one imagines that he must have drawn Uncle Sam crying, or Uncle Sam solemnly resting a hand on Teddy Roosevelt's shoulder, or some other cartoon on the subject. Bowman and his editors must have decided that the cartoon wasn't worth including in the annual round-up. These days, they would have submitted it for a Pulitzer.

Curiously, however, there is this cartoon on page 82. If Bowman and his editors perhaps thought it might be indelicate to include a cartoon about the assassination of President McKinley, why did they include this cartoon of a self-satisfied Uncle Sam on his way to the exposition at which McKinley would be shot?

The other remarkable thing is that the 1902 book contains only two cartoons about Teddy Roosevelt. I almost didn't recognize him the one on page 37, but in the other, on page 72, the cartoon is more of a portrait than a caricature.

While trying to find the 1902 book a second time, I ran across this Bowman cartoon of Grover Cleveland on page 5 of Public Opinion: A Comprehensive Survey of the Press Throughout the World on All Important Current Topics; Volume XXX, January 1901 - June 1901 (Public Opinion, Waverly Place, NY).

Cleveland advises the Democracy to return to first principles.

This cartoon of Grover Cleveland is not in R.C. Bowman's books; but Volume XXX of Public Opinion includes (page 120) a glowing review of his cartoons and those of Minneapolis Journal cartoonist Charles L. "Bart" Bartholomew, whose cartoons also were published in book form that year.

"Readers of Public Opinion must already be aware that we place a high value upon the work of Mr. Bowman of the Minneapolis Tribune and "Bart" (Charles L. Bartholomew) of the Minneapolis Journal. With the cartoons of the press of the whole United States at our disposal, we find week after week that topics of the times are more effectively illustrated by these two men than by any others."

In the review, we find that Bowman's book cost 25 cents. Bartholomew's was only 5 cents and was published in color.

* P.S.: Looking through the book once more, I note that there is a cartoon about the execution of McKinley's assassin, anarchist Leon Czolgosz, on page 94. McKinley was shot on September 6 and died a week later; Czologosz was convicted of the assassination on September 24 and electrocuted at Auburn Prison on October 29.

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