Saturday, March 4, 2017

Wilson on the Brink

Soundingback Saturday starts things off this week with a British view of the American president 100 years ago:
"The Intrusive 'Leadsman'" by Edward T. Reed in Sunday Evening Telegraph, London, February, 1917
A frequent feature of E.T. Reed's cartoons is his spelling out of how other people's accents diverge from the King's English. Woodrow Wilson, as I'm sure you know, hailed from Vajinnia, Joejah, South Kehlahna and Noo Joysey; if you're planning a career as a Woodrow Wilson Impersonator, you might want to do some further research before taking Reed's word for how the president sounded. I've tried to make the dialogue large enough to read on line, but in case I've failed, here it is:
President Woodrow Wilson: "Reck'n it looks mighty like as if we're gett'n' vu-rry near harbor. Guess I'll start heaving the lead a bit, anyways."
Lloyd George: "My good man, it's not the slightest use your messing about with that lead! WE know the port WE'RE making for perfectly well, and shan't need YOUR assistance."
For those of you who aren't old-timey sailors, a leadsman uses a block of lead attached to a rope to determine the depth of water, called "sounding."

If it's rather curious that Prime Minister Lloyd George still feels that he shan't need Wilson's assistance, he'll welcome it quite soon enough. The point that Reed is trying to make is that Lloyd George is committed to total victory over Germany, while Wilson would be happy with achieving a more modest truce.

In fact, thanks to the German resumption of "unrestricted submarine warfare" at sea, the Wilson administration was moving closer and closer to joining the Allies. Keeping to a nautical theme, Philly cartoonist Bill Sykes aims his criticism at the U.S. Congress, where there was still reluctance to commit to the war in Europe.
"Goner Let the Water Out, By Heck!" by Wm. Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Ledger, February 26, 1917
The label on the lightning bolt is "U-boat crisis"; on the ship is "Nationalism"; and on the auger is "Petty Partisanship."

On March 1, the Wilson administration revealed to the American public the Zimmerman telegram, in which the German Foreign Secretary urged Mexico to declare war on the U.S., if the U.S. abandoned neutrality in the European war. In return for keeping the U.S. preoccupied in its own hemisphere, Germany promised to support returning Texas, Arizona and New Mexico to Mexico.

The trademark in this cartoon is a bit difficult to read; it says "War Plot / Made in Germany."
"Do You See That Trademark?" by Wm. F. Hanny in St. Joseph (Mo.) News Dispatch, March 2, 1917
The Mexican government of President Venustiano Carranza decided that its army was no match for the Americans. Besides, The U.S. had just given up the hunt for Pancho Villa and had withdrawn its troops from Mexico in January.  Furthermore, even if everything were to go as Herr Zimmerman promised, the Mexican government was having enough problems governing Mexicans without adding a large population of well-armed Norteamericanos to the country.
"Long Distance—Europe on the Wire" by Edward S. "Ted" Brown in Chicago Daily News, February/March, 1917
War wasn't Wilson's only problem; that pesky labor-management dispute at the railroads was still unsettled. With the Adamson Act pending before the Supreme Court, leaders of the four major railroad unions decided that this was their last chance to strike for the eight-hour day before U.S. entry into the war would compel them to stay at work.
"An Annoying Interruption" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, March 15, 1917
(The creator of the previous two cartoons, Ted Brown, filled the editorial cartooning seat left vacant at the Chicago Daily News by the death of Luther Bradley at the beginning of 1917.)

From the other side, here's a German view of the American president, from the cover of the Berlin satirical magazine Lustige Blätter:
"Doppelzüngig" by Carl O. Petersen for Lustige Blätter, Berlin, February 26, 1917
The full title translates "Double-tongued: the Snake from the White House." One fork of the tongue reads "I want peace!" while the other reads "I break relations with Germany!"

So anyway, that's where we stood as Woodrow Wilson settled in for the Inauguration of his second term on March 5, 1917 (the traditional date of March 4 falling on a Sunday that year).
"Beginning His Second Volume" by Wm. F. Hanny in St. Joseph News Dispatch, March 5, 1917 

No comments:

Post a Comment