Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Yanks Are Coming

Slackerback Saturday returns yet again to the thrilling days of World War I. When we last revisited events of a century ago, the U.S. just had declared war against Germany, which the Entente powers generally welcomed.
Cover of Fantasio, Paris, by Auguste Roubille, May 1, 1917
The question at this point was, "You and what army?"
"You Never Miss the Water 'Till the Well Runs Dry" by Robt. Satterfield in Cleveland News, April, 1917
The U.S. had been able to get by for generations with a volunteer army. The Spanish-American War had been decided in a matter of months, and the expeditionary foray into Mexico had faced only a small band of guerrillas. The U.S. had not defeated Pancho Villa's ragtag rebels, however, and the German war machine was anything but ragtag.

North of the border in British-ruled Quebec, the cartoonist for the Montreal Daily Mail had some disappointing news for "the slacker who went to the U.S."
"To-Day's Hero" by Lawrence (?) in Montreal Daily Mail, April 14, 1917

President Wilson realized that in spite of the patriotic fervor immediately following the declaration of war, the all-volunteer U.S. military would be insufficient to make a substantial difference in any long-term fighting overseas. The answer, of course, was to institute mandatory selective conscription of male citizens, an idea not without its detractors.
"Some of Those Opposed" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Eagle, April 27, 1917
Congressman James Beauchamp "Champ" Clark" (D-MO) had been a rival for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1912, entering the convention that year with more delegates than the eventual winner, Woodrow Wilson. In his role as Speaker of the House, he had done much to advance President Wilson's domestic agenda, so Harding's suggestion here that Clark was against conscription because Wilson was for it is a gross mischaracterization; but the Speaker did split with the President over America's entry into the war.

If not against involvement in European affairs generally, Clark was at least no fan of the British Empire, having argued forcefully in the House in favor of the U.S. annexing Canada.
"Backing Up Uncle Sam" by Winsor McCay in New York American, May 1, 1917
In spite of Speaker Clark's opposition, Congress overwhelmingly approved instituting the draft on April 28.
"Universal Training for These" by John "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, April, 1917
I include this John Darling cartoon because it features future U.S. President Herbert Hoover. "Ding" was a lifelong fan of fellow Iowan Hoover, whom President Wilson named to lead the U.S. Food Administration based on his indefatigable efforts in bringing relief aid to Belgium. In the cartoon above, Hoover's front line troops of produce and livestock are threatened from behind by "German plotters" cabbage worm, potato bug, and black dust.
"The Kaiser's Prop" in L'Asino, Italy, April, 1917
Meanwhile, as long as we brought up Messrs. Wilhelm Hohenzollern and Nicholas Romanov a moment ago, here's a prediction from a cartoonist for the Italian L'Asino that the sudden end of tsarism in Russia foretold doom for the German Kaiser. (The broken crutch is labeled "tsarism," and the fist is labeled "Russian Revolution.") The cartoonist wasn't about to let the inconvenient detail that Russia and Germany were on opposite sides of the war — and that continued unrest in Russia left its future commitment to the war in doubt — spoil a perfectly good cartoon.

After all, there was a new Triple Entente in town.
"Pals" by Sidney Greene in New York Evening Telegram, April 25, 1917

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