Tuesday, March 22, 2011

R.C. Bowman Cartoons about Great Britain -- 1900

More from the pages of The Minneapolis Tribune Cartoon Book for 1901: Being a Collection of Over One Hundred Cartoons by R.C. Bowman: I've already shown some other cartoons about Great Britain, mostly relating to the Boxer Rebellion in China. Here are three more.


The reference in this cartoon is to Paul Kruger, also known as Oom ("Uncle") Paul, President of the South African Republic (Transvaal) up until September of 1900. This is in the middle of the Boer War with Great Britain. For the purposes of this cartoon, it is useful to know that Kruger had a bushy "chinstrap" beard and was as associated with pipe smoking as Franklin Roosevelt would later be with smoking with a cigarette holder. The cartoon symbol for England, John Bull, was also often depicted with a pipe.

As the British advanced on Pretoria, Kruger fled the capital; in October, he went into exile, first to Mozambique and then to Europe. He spent considerable time in Marseilles and Paris, and no doubt this cartoon dates from his French sojourn. The Anglo-French rivalry, of course, extends back to the Norman Conquest.

Kruger, a founder of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa and a Flat Earther (really?!), is the guy they named the Krugerrand after. Also the "Oom Paul" style of pipe.

John Bull: "Heavy? Of course it's heavy. But think of the glory."

This cartoon mocks British surtaxes used to pay for the Boer Wars -- this was long before George W. Bush thought up the idea of pretending that war could be waged off budget. The sign on the left reads "Cost of the Boer War / Five Hundred Million Dollars." The fellow up on the right is labeled "Chamberlain," presumably British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain.

John Bull: "Ah, why don't you keep over on your own side?"

Meanwhile, the United States was making significant inroads in world commerce, threatening England's dominance. While it could still be said that the sun never set on the British Empire, the sun was certainly rising on the American one.

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