Saturday, December 14, 2019

Dashing Through to 1920

It's Sledback Saturday at Bergetoons, and with an election year right around the corner, it's time to check out who's running for president in 1920.
"The First Snow of the Season" by Cy Hungerford in Pittsburgh Sun, December, 1919
In December, 1919, The Republican Party selected Chicago as the site for their national convention in June. There was no shortage of Republicans angling for their party's presidential nomination. These first three cartoons include one past president — William Howard Taft — and three future presidents — Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, and the 1920 winner, Warren Harding. At the moment, in December of 1919, the favorite according to conventional wisdom was General Leonard Wood, who appears in the forefront in these three cartoons.
"The Early Bird" by Grover Page in Louisville Courier-Journal, December, 1919
Other Republican contenders in these cartoons include Senators Hiram Johnson of California, Miles Poindexter of Washington, William Borah of Idaho and Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts; and Governors William C. Sproul of Pennsylvania and Gov. Frank Lowden of Illinois.

Cy Hungerford adds Democrats Sen. Atlee Pomerene of Ohio, former Ambassador to Germany James Gerard, and former Treasury Secretary William MacAdoo in his cartoon. Can you guess which one of them won the Democratic nomination?
"The Line at the Ticket Window..." by J.N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, December 17, 1919
Okay, that was a trick question. But I will have to return to the Democrats another day.

Instead, here's a quick run-through of the major issues candidates in both parties would address:
"Jump" by Magnus Kettner for Western Newspaper Union, by December 20, 1919
First and foremost among issues of the day was the High Cost of Living, which was commonly abbreviated "H.C.L." in cartoons and newspapers of the time. ("H.C.L." virtually disappeared from cartoons and newspapers in December for some reason* — pressure from holiday advertisers perhaps? — even though cartoons critical of profiteers did not.)

I neglected to explain the acronym a few weeks ago when I posted a John McCutcheon cartoon depicting "H.C.L." as a woman at Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving dinner. One reader's first thought was that McCutcheon was depicting Senator Henry Cabot Lodge in drag, a connection I had missed and which I doubt ever occurred to McCutcheon, either.
"The Closed Shop" by Edwin Marcus in New York Times, ca. November, 1919
If profiteers caught some of the blame for the High Cost of Living, few cartoonists expressed any sympathy for workers doing anything collectively to catch up with it. Coalmen, railroad shop workers, food producers, steel workers and the Boston police were among some 3,600 strikes declared in 1919, and were roundly condemned by all but the socialist press. Even the New York Times smeared "strikers" as "labor radicals" deaf to "Reason."
"Where Do We Go From Here?" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 15, 1919
Turning now to foreign policy: negotiations between the Democratic administration and the Republican Congress over the Versailles Peace Accord and League of Nations completely broke down. With neither side willing to compromise, the issue was sure to remain on the table throughout the 1920 campaign.
"The Mexican Merry-Go-Round" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, December, 1919
A rash of kidnappings for ransom of U.S. citizens by Pancho Villa's rebels returned U.S.-Mexican relations to the front burner. Villistas demanded $150,000 ransom for the release of a U.S. consular official; other kidnap victims included oilmen and cattle ranchers.
"Put Up the Bars" by Fred O. Seibel in Knickerbocker Press, November, 1919
Finally, immigration was another hot-button issue — not so much against Mexicans, but rather against leftist agitators from eastern and central Europe, and especially Italy. Cartoonists, as well as other journalists, politicians, and the Attorney General, drew no distinction between communists, socialists, anarchists, and union leaders. Dangers real and imagined made immigrants, who up to this point could come to America at will (except for the Chinese), increasingly suspect and unpopular.
* P.S.: I found one.
"The Weapon and Point of Attack" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, December 18, 1919
I'm 100% positive that McCutcheon and his editors were not accusing Henry Cabot Lodge of burglary.

No comments:

Post a Comment