Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Show Must Go On

"Any Porch in a Storm" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sept. 14, 1920

The wayback machine here is stuck on 1920, so we might as well check in on how that year's presidential candidates are getting along.

"Delivering It to the Wrong Door" Jay N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, Sept. 10, 1920

Reliably Republican cartoonist "Ding" Darling was disaffected with his party's nominee, Warren Harding, and his passive opposition to the League of Nations — his "junk" in this cartoon reads "The Democrats wanted to move the U.S. capital to Geneva — and send all our young men to fight Europe." But instead of defending the League, Democratic nominee James Cox kept harping on charges that the Republicans had raised a $15 million slush fund for the election; so "Ding" ended up unable to support either candidate.

"Will They Never Change the Subject" by Wm. C. Morris for George Matthew Adams Service, by Sept. 22, 1920
Cox's charges achieved little traction outside of a few Democratic-leaning cartoonists such as Nelson Harding (at the top of this post), Daniel Fitzpatrick, and Rollin Kirby. Cox would probably have been better off detailing his own vision for America.
"Following the Boss" by Daisy L. Scott in Tulsa Star, Sept. 18, 1920
As amateurish as the artwork of Daisy Scott's cartoon is, I find it interesting in that it is a depiction by a cartoonist I assume to be a Black woman — the Tulsa Star was a weekly newspaper for Tulsa's then thriving Black community — of a nascent disaffection of Black Americans with the Republican party. The Star was not in the habit of printing editorial cartoons, but ran this one on the front page.

Your Trump-worshiping aunt on Facebook is right: once upon a time, the Republicans, the party of Lincoln, were for Black civil rights, and the Democrats were against them. Democrats depended on the Solid South, and therefore couldn't hope to get anywhere by opposing the KKK. This made the Democrats more successful as a local or congressional party than on the presidential level; only two Democrats, Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson, had been elected president since the Civil War.

But here we have a Black cartoonist and her newspaper looking at the Republican Party record and wondering, "What has the GOP done for us lately?" Nearly half a century had passed since passage of  the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution and the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1871, and 1875; enforcement of them was practically non-existent since the end of Reconstruction in 1877. (For a modern perspective, add 100 years and change the issue to Republicans on environmental protection.) With the end of World War I, lynching and White race riots were on the rise, and not just in Dixie; but the Republican majority in Congress was doing nothing about it.

Republicans didn't realize it yet, but Black Americans were ready for the political realignment that would begin to shift under Franklin D. Roosevelt.
"They're Not Falling for the Decoy" by Albert T. Reid in National Republican, ca. Sept. 20, 1920
A couple Saturdays ago, I mused that I was unlikely to come across any more cartoons about either 1920 vice presidential candidate. I stand corrected.

Franklin Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy when nominated for the vice presidency, a nomination which he actively pursued. As a moderate, he balanced the Democratic ticket headed by the progressive reformer Cox. Roosevelt took up the cause of defending Wilson's League of Nations, while Cox stuck to domestic issues and those slush fund charges. 
"Not His Style" by Orville P. Williams for Star Publishing, by Sept. 13, 1920
Albert Reid certainly was diametrically opposed to Roosevelt on the League issue, which was the dominant issue of 1920 as far as Republican cartoonists were concerned. Orville Williams is typical of many of William Hearst's cartoonists, who took a completely serious approach to warning their readers about the League as a danger to American sovereignty...
"Imperialists Want Feathers for Their Caps" for Star Publishing by Winsor McCay, by Sept. 16, 1920 did Winsor McCay.
"Freeneasy Film Co. Presents: Thrilling Geographical Reel" by Frederick B. Opper for Star Publishing, by Sept. 20, 1920
Frederick B. Opper, on the other hand, employed a more humorous touch while still toeing the Hearst party line. The creator of Happy Hooligan and Alphonse & Gaston launched a series of "Freeneasy Film Co. Presents" cartoons depicting Cox as the hapless brand new stepfather of Wilson's Fourteen Points. Point #10, the most controversial, requiring military action by League members to enforce its will when called upon to do so, always wears black in these Opper cartoons.
"Freeneasy Film Co. Presents: Great Educational Natural History Reel" by F. Opper for Star Publishing, by Sept. 23, 1920
This is off topic, but remember that cartoon from Labor Feature Service that I used to close this Labor Day weekend post a couple weeks ago? It appeared in the Oklahoma Leader of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Leader editorial page boasted Labor Feature Service cartoons throughout the month of August, 1920.

My intention for that Labor Day weekend post was to use a cartoon printed closer Labor Day of 1920, but I found that come September, the Oklahoma Leader editorial page abruptly switched over to cartoons from Hearst's Star Publishing, including the four cartoons immediately above.

Do you suppose that the publisher of the Oklahoma Leader returned home from his August vacation and blew his top when he saw what the staff had been printing in his newspaper in his absence? Were editors sacked?

(I did also look in the Non-Partisan Leader for a 1920 Labor Day cartoon, but none of their cartoons in late August and September addressed labor issues.)
So anyway, this post has been all over the map, so I'm just going to wrap things up by circling back to the work of Nelson Harding. Because I feel like it.
"The Grand Old Band Wagon" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sept. 19, 1920

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