Saturday, September 23, 2017

Disloyalty Daze

Today's installment of Seditionback Saturday takes a look at cartoons attacking whoever might be hindering America's war effort 100 years ago.

In the September 9 post here, I mentioned William Randolph Hearst's reputation as fostering a pro-German bias in his media empire. Cartoons magazine, in reporting his hiring of outspoken anti-German cartoonist Louis Raemaekers for his syndicate and recently purchased Puck magazine, said,
 "Raemaekers for a long time has fought his silent battles against Prussianism with a courage borne of convictions. His new employer has been doing his bit in the war by opposing the dispatch of American troops to Europe."
"The Poisoned Pen" by John "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, August, 1917
It's a common myth today that one's own ancestors arrived on America's shores fluent in the Queen's English — or at least Bronx English; but in truth, many clung to the comfort and familiarity of their home tongue. Ethnic newspapers thrived in many cities and towns throughout the U.S. a century ago, and even some English language papers in major cities would have foreign-language pages. (The New York Evening Telegram, for example, had a regular page of news in Italian.)

In any city associated with beer brewing, one would find two to five competing German language newspapers, in which German immigrants could catch up on all the news from back home. Since the outbreak of war in 1914, that news from home had to be cleared through German government censors, who obviously wanted to put out a completely different message than did the Entente governments — now including the United States.
"His Adopted Son" by Jay "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, August, 1917
While the German-American press could hardly go so far as to advocate for Central Powers' victory over the Entente, the Milwaukee Herold, Westliche Post of St. Louis, or Illinois Staats-Zeitung might enthusiastically report peace proposals from the Kaiser that were, according to the official U.S. government line, utterly unworthy of consideration.

Outside the Hearst newspaper chain, quite a few journalists actually joined in the calls for countermeasures that would clearly be in direct violation of the First Amendment. Most cartoonists characterized the German-American press as a bothersome but relatively harmless dachshund, yet "Kin" Hubbard of the Indianapolis News here goes so far as to portray it as a vicious German shepherd that has treed Uncle Sam, who wishes for a gun.
"He Needs One" by Frank "Kin" Hubbard in Indianapolis News, September, 1917
John Lenz, drawing for Vorbote ("Harbinger"), a German language socialist workers weekly newspaper in Chicago, drew several cartoons in the fall of 1917 lamenting high prices, which I'm sure didn't bother the censors or his fellow cartoonists one little bit. Vorbote did, however, publish one Lenz cartoon criticizing congressional measures to clamp down on dissent.
"Wenn Uns Jetzt Unsere Vorväter Sehen Konnten" by John Lenz in Vorbote, Chicago, October 31, 1917
I apologize that I can't clean up the image any better than this. The figure in the top hat is Congress, blindfolding, binding and gagging "the People." The banner behind Congress reads "Freedom of Speech, Press Freedom, Right of Assembly." The rolled parchments beneath George Washington represent the Constitution and First Amendment.

In addition to the German press, the socialistic International Workers of the World union was targeted as a threat to the national war effort. As discussed before, the U.S. government went after the I.W.W. "wobblies," arresting hundreds of the union leaders in Chicago and elsewhere. By and large, the American press gave the crackdown its seal of approval.
"The Masked Batteries" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, September 14, 1917
Bill Sykes below shows Uncle Sam in a wholly different light than did Frank Hubbard. The German press can do little more than yap and nip at Uncle Sam's heels, while the I.W.W. is stunned by a quick jab from the butt end of Sam's bayonet. The dog skedaddling with its tail between its legs is labeled "slackers," the common term for draft dodgers of any kind.
"Dog Days" by Charles H. "Bill" Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Ledger,  August 17, 1917
When Chicago Mayor "Big Bill" Thompson allowed the People's Council of America for Democracy and Terms of Peace to hold its hurriedly conducted convention in his town, he came under withering attack even from his fellow Republicans at the Chicago Tribune, including its front page editorial cartoonist, John T. McCutcheon.
"Going Against the Current" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, September 5, 1917
James P. Alley, father of Cal, links "conscientious objectors" (in scare quotes) with foreign agents who had blown up munitions factories and storage facilities in several notorious attacks.
"Brothers-In-Arms!" by James Pinckney Alley in Memphis Commercial Appeal, September, 1917
Conscientious objectors, malignant pacifists and Kaiser boosters appear together in "Is This Your Little Pet Peeve?", a regular feature of Frank King's full-page "The Rectangle" in the Sunday Chicago Tribune.
Detail from "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King, in Chicago Tribune, September 23, 1917
"Slackers" were an easy target for cartoons, and there are far too many editorial cartoons to choose from condemning them. Just as many exhorted Mom and Dad to be proud that their son was heeding the call to risk life and limb on some foreign field. By the same token, a patriotic bride supposedly should want to see her groom not in a tux and tails, but in a khaki green army uniform.
"You Can't Hide Behind That" by Rollin Kirby in New York World, August, 1917
Although I'm not sure that Frank King was really helping sell the point here.
Detail from "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King, in Chicago Tribune, September 23, 1917

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