Saturday, January 5, 2019

TR: An American Original

This Sunday will mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States from 1901 to 1909.
"The Long, Long Trail" by Jay N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, January 7, 1919
"Ding" Darling's memorial cartoon is the quintessential cartoon eulogy for Roosevelt, notwithstanding the fact that the whole concept was a reworking of a cartoon Darling had drawn when Buffalo Bill Cody died. Any biography of Roosevelt that includes any cartoons at all will have this one (and Clifford Berryman's teddy bear cartoon), so I would have normally passed over it in favor of all the cartoons that haven't been kept alive all these years...
"Good Bye!" by Billy Ireland in Columbus Dispatch, January, 1919
...But I wanted to contrast it with Billy Ireland's memorial cartoon. In spite of its similar approach to the subject, and Ireland's unquestionable skill in caricature, composition and drafting, you can see why Darling's cartoon has withstood the test of time and Ireland's hasn't. Darling has T.R. looking directly at the reader, and the wagon trail into the sky packs more emotion than Ireland's ground transport. I do like the updating of Charon's ferry to a western wagon, however.

"The Last Voyage of Adventure" by Rollin Kirby in New York World, January, 1919
Other cartoonists responded with cartoons that at first seem to say little more than "He's dead, Jim." Rollin Kirby stuck with the traditional depiction of the ferryman to Hades, but casts the journey as a final adventure for the man whose travels to exotic wilderness locations were the stuff of legend.

"But His Soul Is Marching On" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 9, 1919
Roosevelt's funeral was described as "simple"; in accordance with Roosevelt's wishes, it was without eulogy, sermon, music, flowers, or honorary pallbearers, which may explain Nelson Harding's extremely plain memorial cartoon.
"The Final Summing Up" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, January, 1919
Ted Brown's eulogy seems at first glance to downplay Roosevelt as having been just "a man," but I imagine it refers to the palindrome devised to immortalize one of his administration's greatest achievements: "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama!"
"He Was a Man, Take Him All in All" by C.F. Naughton in Duluth Evening Herald, January 7, 1919
Or perhaps not. Roosevelt preferred being called "Colonel" (his rank in the army) instead of President or Former President, and his family declined an offer by the Secretary of War of a military escort for his body. That didn't stop other presidents, politicians, and foreign heads of state from calling him a "great man"; perhaps he preferred these cartoonists going to such lengths to avoid aggrandizing him.

Incidentally, he hated being called "Teddy."

"The Gold Star" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, January 7, 1919
Unlike our recent experience with George H.W. Bush, cartoonists in 1919 were unlikely to have a memorial cartoon for T.R. ready to go — unless they had held onto sketches begun after his attempted assassination in 1912. He had health issues from childhood, and he had survived a pulmonary embolism three weeks before the one that killed him in his sleep; but publicly, the 60-year-old Roosevelt was the very image of health and vitality, maintaining an active schedule of travels and speeches up to the day he died.
"In Action" by S. Rankin in New York Times, January, 1919
This caricature of Roosevelt in the New York Times exemplifies Roosevelt's feisty public political persona. Raskin's caricature reminds me of another jugendstil caricature of Roosevelt, by Gustav Brandt on page 149 of The American Presidency in Political Cartoons 1776-1976 by Thomas Blaisdell, Peter Selz "and seminar." Brandt's caricature also shows Roosevelt bent forward and gesticulating with his fists; as the book's authors explain, "Photographs of Roosevelt speaking verify that he often actually did lean far over the podium, gesturing and working his face wildly."

I had thought it would be interesting to include any German cartoonist's response to the death of Roosevelt, considering how vocal he was in encouraging the U.S. to enter the Great War. From what I've seen, however, German cartoonists were understandably preoccupied with the Paris negotiations and violent political upheaval at home.
"Sant Jaume Americà" by Josep "Picarol" Costa Ferrer in Campana de Gràcia, Barcelona, January, 1919?
So instead, I'll close with a tribute to Roosevelt from Spain. Unfortunately, I've been unable to find the cartoon in Campana de Gràcia's archives; it could have been originally published before Roosevelt's death and republished in Cartoons magazine among the memorial tribute cartoons. (Or else Cartoons magazine might have been mistaken as to which journal published it.)

The cartoonist seems to be inducting Roosevelt into the Order of Santiago, a knightly order named for Spain's patron saint, James the Greater, who is commonly depicted riding a white horse and brandishing a sword. Instead of driving the Moors out of Spain, however, this American St. James drove the Spaniards out of Cuba.

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