Monday, March 29, 2021

Holy Week's Sneak Peek

First of all, Happy Passover to all my readers of the Jewish persuasion, and a Blessed Holy Week to any others what's been persuaded Christianly.

Second of all, Mike Peterson's Sunday entry over at the Daily Cartoonist alerted me that in my post on women in 1921 comics the day before, I somehow managed to overlook completely the contributions of  Edwina Dumm (1893-1990). 

Female cartoonists were an extreme rarity 100 years ago; Edwina Dumm nevertheless was the all-purpose cartoonist for the Columbus Saturday Monitor starting in 1915, then penned a respectably successful comic strip, "Cap Stubbs and Tippie," from 1918 until her retirement in 1966. It was originally syndicated by George Matthew Adams Service until that syndicate folded in 1965; it was distributed through the Washington Star for its final year.

"Cap Stubbs and Tippie" by Edwina Dumm, for G.M.Adams Service, March 29, 1921

Here's the March 29, 1921 installment of "Cap Stubbs and Tippie," which seems a typical example of Dumm's gentle humor and easy story-telling style. You can also find a 1949 specialty drawing of hers featuring the strip's title characters at Stripper's Guide here.

I hope to have the presence of mind when Women's History Month rolls around next year to have a better tribute to Dumm, Fay King, and whatever other women cartoonists whose work I can find from 1922. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Mansplaining Women's History Month

'Tis spring, and a cartoonist's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of millinery.

"The Worried Weather Man" by Clifford Berryman in Washington Evening Star, March 26, 1921

I had thoughts of putting forth a post in honor of Women's History Month sometime in March, yet events of 100 Marches ago seem to have given cartoonists but one inspiration on women's issues. It wasn't just Clifford Berryman's weather forecaster; here's a cartoon I almost led last Saturday's 100-year-old post with:

"St. Patrick's Day" by Magnus Kettner, March 17, 1921

On the other hand, there was a brand new First Lady to draw about, even if she was not yet a familiar face.

"A Voice from the Attic of a House in Marion" by Harold T. Webster, March 3, 1921

And guess what cartoonists did know about Florence Harding! Her hat!

"She Wants What She Wants When She Wants It" by Wm. Donahey in Cleveland Plain Dealer, ca. March 28, 1921

So I turn to the funny pages, where, happily, the men drawing the cartoons had —mostly— run out of hat-related gags. I found there, however, a curious coincidence among several of the comic strips that had women in the title role.

"Polly and Her Pals" by Clifford Sterrett for Hearst newspapers, March 6, 1921

"Polly and Her Pals" was the popular creation of Cliff Sterrett, running from 1912 to 1958. Yet here at this fairly early date — the focus of the strip seems to be not Polly Perkins, but her father, Paw. 

Again and again, Polly exists only to set up Paw Perkins's predicament in the first panel — here, two weeks later, she's setting the poor old sap up yet again to humiliate himself musically on the local vaudeville stage...

— returning only in the third-to-last panel in which her mother reports that their ethnically something-or-other houseboy, Neewah, has bought up all the rotten eggs in town.
Excerpted from "Polly and Her Pals" by Clifford Sterrett, March 20, 1921

Sterrett could just as easily have had Polly herself running around town buying up those rotten eggs. Was she not as much fun to draw? Oh, sure, Paw couldn't have challenged her to put up her dukes in the penultimate panel; but then again, parental violence wasn't unheard of in 1921. Or she could have been the one to uncover and report Neewah's ovate buying spree. Anything to allow her some dialogue that week!

Heck, Polly was pretty good-looking (she didn't take after either of her parents). Oughtn't she to have been the one going out on stage to display the extent of her musical talents? Couldn't that have been equally funny?

"And Why Do You Weep" by Nate Collins in Cartoons Magazine, March, 1921

We turn now to the working girl.

"Miss Information" by Wood Cowan for George Matthew Adams Service, March 19, 1921

Women in the labor force was nothing new in 1921. For eons, women toiled on the farm, in the shirt factory, in the schoolroom, and doing whatever Cosette did in Madeleine's factory before having to turn to the World's Oldest Profession. Taking over the previously male occupation of office clerk, however, was novel, and contributed to the popularity of cartoons about secretaries.

Like Polly Perkins, the title character of "Miss Information" did little but set up the punch line for the boss or the office boy — which may explain why the strip was later retitled "In Our Office."

"Somebody's Stenog" by A.M. Hayward for Public Ledger Co., April 1, 1921

Some comic strip heroines, on the other hand, took center stage. Compare Cowan's Miss Information to her fellow office worker, Miss O'Flage, the title character of Alfred Hayward's "Somebody's Stenog." (A while back, I featured one of Hayward's other strips, "Colonel Corn.") O'Flage's starring role was helped in that Hayward stretched some story lines over several days at a time; here, she testifies in a lawsuit her employer has filed against a supplier.

"Somebody's Stenog" by A.M. Hayward for Public Ledger Co., April 9, 1921

Most of the time, neither O'Flage nor her co-worker Mary Doodle display much of a work ethic — O'Flage drives The Boss crazy skipping out of work for frivolous reasons — but he wouldn't have kept her around if she didn't get the job done.

Ask your grandparents about "carbon paper."

From working women, we turn now to Maggie Jiggs, arguably the most quintessentially 1920's cartoon female (after Betty Boop).

"Bringing Up Father" by George McManus, March 27, 1921

The Jiggses, he a bricklayer and she a laundress, won a million dollars and settled into the lifestyle of the nouveau riche and fabulous — the American dream of the Good Life and Easy Money. Her husband seemed to be more or less content with whatever his lot, but Maggie craved the status she felt should come along with riches. This set her up for repeated come-uppance, thus setting her apart from the comic strip heroines who blithely created chaos for the menfolk in their lives.

"A Well Dressed Wife" by Walter Wellman for Cartoons Magazine, March, 1921

It's a bit late for a spoiler alert or trigger warning, but I hope you didn't read this far hoping to find feminism and wokeness in 1921 comics. These cartoonists were, to a man, men, after all.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Q Toon: Couples Counseling


So the Roman Catholic church reiterated its opposition to marriage equality last week, and it was news.

The Roman Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex marriages, no matter how stable or positive the couples' relationships are, the Vatican said on Monday. The message, approved by Pope Francis, came in response to questions about whether the church should reflect the increasing social and legal acceptance of same-sex unions. ...

"The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing," the statement said.

LGBTQ Catholics, such as DignityUSA, have occasionally gotten their hopes up that Pope Francis will bring a breath of fresh air to the stale atmosphere in the Vatican. His "Who am I to judge?" response early in his papacy to a question on the topic seemed to indicate that he wouldn't be as rigid as his immediate predecessor. Last year, he avered that same-sex and non-traditional couples deserve legal recognition in the form of civil union laws.

But he also wrote, in his 2016 treatise "Amoris Laetitia," "[T]here are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family."

So the Catholic Church's message to LGBTQ believers is this: You are loved by God and you deserve to be in a loving, happy, healthy, mutual, and legally protected relationship.

But not in our house.

Monday, March 22, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek


 The bishop turned his head so sharply, even his mitre didn't have time to catch up.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

World News

 Come with me on a quick world tour in 1921, won't you?

"St. Patrick's Day Dream of Tomorrow" by Bob Satterfield for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., March 17, 1921

Since we've just made it past another St. Patrick's Day, we'll start with Ireland; where their British overlords celebrated the holiday by hanging six Irish Republicans convicted of killing British intelligence officers.

"Peace and Permanent Settlement" by David Low in London Star, Jan./Feb., 1921

Sir Edward Carson was the Conservative MP given the task of finding a peaceful settlement to Britain's Irish problem. His was the novel observation that if Irish Catholics and Protestants would just stop killing each other, they wouldn't have to live in fear of each other. 
"The Dove of Peace" by Jon Cottrell in Chronicle, Manchester, ca. March, 1921
Coming to England from Australia, David Low saw the issue of Irish independence (and Indian independence as well) differently than most of the other cartoonists on that Blessed Isle. According to his memoir, Low's Autobiography, he received some strongly worded pushback from other newspapers and their readers.

"When Are You Going to Pay This Bill?" in London Opinion, ca. March, 1921

Meanwhile, London (and Paris) were insisting upon steep war indemnity from Germany, and had no patience for Germany's protestations that it couldn't afford to pay. 

"The Island of Yap" by Frederick Opper for Star Publishing, ca. Feb. 16, 1921

William Randolph Hearst and his newspapers were eager for the U.S. to call in debts supposedly owed by the major Entente powers and a smattering of other countries around the world. The issue has nothing to do with dispute between the U.S. and Japan over the Micronesian island of Yap, but that didn't stop Hearst cartoonist Frederick Opper from drawing a series of cartoons in which Yap features prominently in merry songs about how nobody is in a rush to repay loans from Uncle Sam.

(I have to apologize for his characterization of Liberia, which appears in all of Opper's "Island of Yap" cartoons. Crude caricatures of Blacks, and, for that matter, foreigners, were the rule in this era, and nowhere moreso than in Mr. Opper's work.)

"Where He Will Be Waiting for Us" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, March 17, 1921

Not every cartoonist thought that Japan staking a claim on the island of Yap was a joke.

"The Sick Man Sees a Silver Lining" by Fred Morgan in Philadelphia Inquirer, March, 1921

Meanwhile, since the Harding administration wasn't interested in governing a mandate over Armenia, the allies decided to let the Ottomans retain control there, in spite of the Turkish genocide of civilians. Between 1915 and 1923, Turkey literally decimated its Armenian population through deportation, forced conversion to Islam, death marches, and outright execution.

"La Civiltà È Finalmente Nelle Nostre Mani," in Pasquino, Torino, ca. March, 1921

Turkey found a new ally in its former adversary Russia. The Bolsheviks, discarding the Romanovs' concern for defending Christianity south of the Black Sea, shared the Ottomans' interest in subjugating their Armenian citizens.

"Who Will Suffer Most?" by Winsor McCay, December, 1920
Any time there was an uprising somewhere in Russia, cartoonists in the U.S. and elsewhere rushed to their drawing boards to proclaim the imminent demise of the Soviet Socialist Republic. March, 1921 witnessed a flurry of such cartoons. What I find more interesting, however, are cartoons like this one in support of Western capitalists who saw financial opportunity in Communist Russia. Winsor McCay was not the only cartoonist who thought the U.S. was losing a potentially valuable market to other countries (especially Great Britain).

Speaking of the class struggle of the proletariat...

"Polonia ha Ordinato Trecento Aeroplani.." in Pasquino, Torino, ca. February, 1921

I have to respect Cartoon Magazine's translation, awkward as it is, of this cartoon by someone whose signature I can't read. (Why, moreover, does the Italian agitator who doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to the Russian leader have "W. Lenin" tattooed on his belly?)

Translating these cartoons isn't as easy as typing words into Google Translate, and here are a couple of cartoons that exemplify that.

"Die Seindlichen Schwestern" by Oskar Theuer in Ulk, Berlin, March 4, 1921

I include this cartoon as one of the earliest cartoons I have come across featuring the Nazi party — the sister seated on the left of her rival, the Deutsche Volkspartei (German People's Party). Both parties were anti-socialist, no matter what that uncle of yours who watches Fox News all night tells you that Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei means.

The caption on this cartoon doesn't seem to translate well; "Die seindlichen Schwestern" is literally "The Enemy Sisters." For all my searching, "Extratour" seems only to translate to English exactly as it looks. I'm only guessing that Oskar Theuer was making some sarcastic allusion to these "enemy sisters" returning to the dance floor in the final panel.

"Desafinação no Continente" by José Carlos de Brito e Cunha in Careta, Rio de Janeiro, March, 1921

I'm similarly stymied by the last word in this Brazilian cartoon, which may mean goals or ends, or, judging from Tio Sam's left hand, it could be a slang term for money and influence.

At any rate, a border conflict between Panama and Costa Rica over the latter's incursion into Almirante presented the Harding administration with its inaugural foreign crisis. Bound by treaty to protect Panama's sovereignty (and because we had seized the isthmus from Columbia in order to build a canal through it), the U.S. did indeed step in to mediate the conflict, and the matter was settled fairly quickly.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Q Toon: As I Have Foreseen


Long ago, in a polity far away, having the Senate evenly split between fifty Republicans and fifty Democrats would have forced the two parties to work together to keep the government running. These days, however, we have one party interested in good government, and the other, led by Mitch McConnell (R-Byss), happy to see no government at all.

Barack Obama came into office in 2008 with a filibuster-proof 60-40 Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, and the the U.S. economy four months into the most serious collapse since the Great Depression of the 1930s. McConnell had vowed that thwarting Obama at every turn would be the Number One priority of the Republican Party, over and above national interest, leaving Democrats to rescue the economy on their own.

From there, Obama and Senate Democrats tried a bipartisan approach to crafting the Affordable Care Act, trimming the bill a little here and gutting it a little there in a vain attempt to persuade even one Republican to sign onto it. But the GOP had their orders to stick together in intransigent opposition no matter what. Democrats might just as well have passed a Swedish-style single-payer system instead.

Then Ted Kennedy up and died and was replaced by Republican Scott Brown, handing McConnell effective veto power over all legislation and dozens upon dozens of judicial appointments.

Today, McConnell is still in charge of Senate Republicans, who continue to show remarkable unity when opportunities to do nothing arise. Ten Senate Republicans do not exist who will put the national interest above party politics.

None of the issues that Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats ran on in 2020 can be dealt with as long as Mitch McConnell retains his veto power, so many Democrats are eager to scrap the filibuster— possible now if they have their 50 votes plus that of Vice President Kamala Harris.

But not so fast! Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) like the filibuster! Manchin cited the "Byrd Rule," named for the 1970's-80's leader of Senate Democrats and 1940's Ku Klux Klansman Robert Byrd. Byrd personally filibustered four fourteen hours against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 along with other Dixiecrats.

Sinema, this cartoon's link to being of interest to LGBTQ+ readers, avoided citing the filibuster's history of anti-civil rights, but told Politico, “I want to restore the 60-vote threshold for all elements of the Senate’s work.” (Emphasis mine.) Considering her experience as one of the very few Democratic members of the Arizona legislature, her love for the filibuster may be understandable — but self-defeating.

“I have long said that I oppose eliminating the filibuster for votes on legislation,” Sinema’s office went on to explain. “Retaining the legislative filibuster is not meant to impede the things we want to get done. Rather, it’s meant to protect what the Senate was designed to be. I believe the Senate has a responsibility to put politics aside and fully consider, debate, and reach compromise on legislative issues that will affect all Americans.”

From this explanation, a voter might conclude that the Framers created the Senate to be some sort of debating society that occasionally passes bills, rather than an active and functional legislative chamber.

The Framers of the Constitution actually got rid of a forerunner of the filibuster, a requirement that "important resolutions" be approved by two-thirds of the states — a practice that had hobbled government under the Articles of Confederation. As Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist #22, observed:

To give a minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser. ... The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority. In those emergencies of a nation, in which the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its government, is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a necessity for action. The public business must, in some way or other, go forward. If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority, respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good.

It was catchier when Lin Manuel-Miranda rapped it, but perhaps you get the point.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Ides of March Sneak Peek


 Some politicians are fun to draw, even if I would never, ever, want to see them elected to higher office.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Toon: Taking the Seat Back, Revisited


It's possible that only we editorial cartooning nerds will get the reference made in my cartoon today.

Most of you are aware of the full-bore assault on voting rights underway in Republican state legislatures all across the country. Iowa has shortened in-person voting hours by a full hour in the evening because, I don't know, voting fraud between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Republicans said the rules are needed to guard against voting fraud, though they noted Iowa has no history of election irregularities and that November’s election saw record turnout with no hint of problems in the state.

In Georgia, Republicans are making it a criminal offense to offer water to voters forced to stand in line for hours on end in order to exercise their constitutional rights. They are well aware that rural and suburban voters never have to wait anywhere near that long at their polling places; this measure has nothing to do with making sure voters aren't being bribed with bottles of Evian.

Just about everywhere the Republicans are making it tough for city folk to vote, by cutting the availability of early voting, absentee voting, and voting by mail. This on top of earlier voting restrictions such as requiring photo ID but not allowing student or municipal IDs. (Oh, sure, if you don't have a car, you can get a state-approved ID; but you still have to schlep way the fork out to the exurbs to the DMV office for it.)

Even Republican election officials readily admit that the 2020 general election was the most secure and fraud-free election in history. Republican elected officials, however, say that their voting restrictions are necessary to address allegations of voting irregularities — allegations which they themselves have fabricated.

Now, for some of you, I may need to explain that this cartoon references one by the great Bill Mauldin upon the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1963. 

"I've Decided I Want My Seat Back" by Bill Mauldin in Chicago Sun-Times, September 6, 1963

It's not as famous as the Weeping Lincoln he would draw less than three months later. Still, I think it found its way into enough high school and college textbooks that you don't necessarily have to be an editorial cartoonist yourself to recognize it.


Saturday, March 13, 2021

March Times On

Following up on my post from two Saturdays ago, here's a retrospective of some of my favorite cartoons from the first March of previous decades. I won't limit myself to Wisconsin issues this time, but in order to continue where I left off two weeks ago, I'll start with 2011 and work backward.

This first cartoon referenced a "Letter to Wisconsin Republicans From a Conservative Prison Guard," whose response to Governor Scott Walker and state legislators' attacks on state employees such as himself was to declare eternal opposition to the Republican Party.


I'm curious whether the guy has remained committed to defeating the politicians who had betrayed him. Did he become a Bernie Bro? A Lincoln Projector? A MAGAlomaniac?

Sadly, his letter has vanished from the internet, and I think it may have been published anonymously to begin with, so there is probably no way to know whatever happened to him.

for Q Syndicate, March 2011

Later that month, I drew this cartoon critical of Democratic legislators in Maryland. (See, folks, we liberals do not walk in lockstep the way Republicans do.) I bring this cartoon up partly to show how far we have come in ten years on the issue of marriage equality, but also to discuss colorization. At the time, I was still sending cartoons to Q Syndicate only in grayscale.

In this case, however, I was depicting both rainbow colors on one character and Maryland's flag on the other, neither of which translate well into shades of gray. I made a colorized version back then for this blog, and I might have added it to the files I sent my editors. I didn't have a graphics program capable of saving files in better-for-print CMYK format until the next year, however.

in Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, March 16, 2001

Scott McCallum was elevated to the Wisconsin governorship when Tommy Thompson left to join the George W. Bush cabinet in January, 2001. Thanks to a state constitutional amendment passed after the 1977-79 "Acting Governorship" of Martin Schreiber, McCallum was the first governor to nominate his Lieutenant Governor for State Senate confirmation; he tapped Sen. Margaret Farrow (R-Elm Grove), to be the state's first female Lieutenant Governor.

The Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee took issue with the leisurely pace Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala announced for Farrow's confirmation process. Her nomination was announced in March; she ended up taking office in May.

Speaking of things that took from March until May...

for Q Syndicate, March, 2001

I don't have much to say about this cartoon except that it was one of my favorites from that year. I don't often like the non-topical cartoons that get drawn to be held in reserve for when I can't send in a cartoon; it's nearly impossible for a cartoon to be at once topical yet timeless. "The Break-up" was eventually released, probably that May when my better half and I were on vacation in Germany.

Jumping back ten more years in the Wayback Machine...

in Journal Times, Racine WI, March 7, 1991

You sure do, kid. In 30 years, your children will get to experience remote learning via Zoom.

Mommy and Daddy in this cartoon were Baby Boomers my age; junior high schools (grades 7 to 9) in my hometown were conducted in split shifts from 1974 to 1978 because there weren't enough schoolrooms to accommodate all of us at the same time.

The Racine Unified School District did not institute year-round schooling for everyone, but did begin offering it in the 1990's as an elective option at selected schools.

in UW-Parkside Ranger, Kenosha WI, March 14, 1991
Sometime during the Reagan administration, congressional Republicans began wearing flag lapel pins conspicuously and uniformly during televised joint sessions of Congress — in particular for presidential addresses. Democrats soon followed suit. When our troops went to fight Gulf War I, both sides added yellow ribbons (popularized from the Tony Orlando and Dawn hit from the 1970's). Republicans then started wearing buttons with an agreed-upon slogan on them and, with that war now won, chanting "USA! USA!" at high points during President Bush's speeches. 

By the way, that's supposed to be Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) up in the fifth row between Senators Paul Simon (D-IL) and Al Gore (D-TN).

Stepping back ten more years one last time, I find our old pal President Warren Gamaliel Harding staring out of a picture frame.

in St. Olaf College Manitou Messenger, Northfield MN, March 5, 1981

President Jimmy Carter had named Sidney Rand, the president of the college where I matriculated, as Ambassador to Norway in 1980. Soon after taking office in 1981, President Ronald Reagan notified Rand that he had two weeks to vacate the embassy. That is normal for any change in administration, but Senator David Durenburger (R-MN) called it "a lousy way to do business" nevertheless. "Norway has had four ambassadors in four years," Durenburger told the Minneapolis Tribune, "and to kick him out like that I thought was just another slap in the face to a very important country."

It took almost ten months before Rand's successor, Mark E. Austad, moved into our embassy in Oslo — so you've got no right to complain, Lt. Gov. Farrow! — by which time I had been graduated from St. Olaf and had lost interest in U.S.-Norwegian affairs. Happily, relations between our two countries survived that tumultuous period, and Minnesotans are still allowed to name their football team after their Scandinavian cousins.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Q Toon: Your Word Is Gymkhana


While Democrats in Congress and the White House have been hard at work dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, Republicans are keeping busy clutching their pearls over Cancel Culture and transgender schoolgirls.

Supposedly, they're afraid that girls' sports will forever be ruined by the superior prowess of MTF girls who are bulked up like the East German Olympians of 1970's cartoons. That's a little hard to swallow, however, in these days of cisgender women starting to find their way into men's sports.

Nevertheless, Requblican Senators Tommy Tuberville, Lindsey Graham, and Roger Marshall even tried to slip an amendment into the COVID-19 relief bill this week “to prohibit funds made… to States, local educational agencies, and institutions of higher education that permit any student whose biological sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity designated for women or girls.”

Senator Tuberville's amendment was voted down, 50-49. (Joe Manchin, D-WV, voted in favor of the amendment; Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, voted against it. Otherwise, it was a party-line vote. Alaska's other GOP senator, Dan Sullivan, was back home for a family funeral.)

To put it another way, Tuberville's junk amendment having nothing whatsoever to do with coronavirus relief had the vote of each and every Republican south of Ketchikan who has complained that the bill passed yesterday is larded up with junk amendments having nothing whatsoever to do with coronavirus relief.

Monday, March 8, 2021

IWD Sneak Peek

Seeing as it's International Women's Day, here's a woman. Depending where you're sitting, she might even be international.

Tune in later this week to find out what this woman is talking about. And in the meantime, celebrate the international women in your life!

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Good-bye—And Howdy!

"Good-Bye—and Howdy" by Wm. C. Morris for Geo. Matthew Adams Service, ca. March 4, 1921

100 years ago this week, the second most corrupt presidential administration in U.S. history was sworn into office.

"Good Luck, Old Man" by J.N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, March 4, 1921

Of course, nobody could foresee the rot that would lead to the Teapot Dome Scandal (unlike Donald Trump's complete and utter lack of ethics and responsibility, which were well in evidence long before he rode down the escalator), so most editorial cartoonists welcomed the new administration into office. "Ding" Darling, while a loyal Republican, had drawn his disapproval of Warren Harding during the campaign; but there is no trace of that in his Inauguration Day cartoon.

"He Should Worry About Eviction" by J.N. "Ding" Darling in Collier's, February 26, 1921 

Conversely, Ding had offered a less than dignified send-off in Collier's magazine for the departing President Woodrow Wilson.

"Good Luck and Best Wishes" by Bob Satterfield for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., ca. March 4, 1921

So anyway, there were plenty of cartoons of Uncle Sam wishing the new president luck. I could re-post Clifford Berryman's sycophantic March 4 cartoon again today, but frankly, it wouldn't add much to the conversation.

"Exit the Donk" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, March 3, 1921

 For their part, partisan Republicans such as Carey Orr were especially gleeful.

"The Dawn of a New Day" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, March 4, 1921

To hear Republicans of the day, you would think that the Wilson administration had seen eight bleak years of depression and hopelessness during which Mr. Wilson spent the whole time in Europe ignoring the utter collapse of the republic at home. You can fault Wilson for cozying up to racist segregationists, ignoring suffragettes, and persecuting socialists, but I hardly think those were criticisms Mr. Orr gave one whit about.

"At Last, After Eight Years..." by Leo Bushnell for Central Press Assn., ca. March 3, 1921

No, for the most part, the change from Democratic government to Republican government was of interest solely to the committed partisans on either side. Hiram and Frank might have needled each other at the feed store, but well before March 4, neither one still had Cox, Harding, or Wilson For President flags still waving in front of their home.

"A New Brand" by Leo Bushnell for Central Press Assn., ca. March 4, 1921

This must be a slightly less snotty way of saying "Put that in your pipe and smoke it." Do the kids still say that these days? As an aPOThecary reference, I suppose.

"The New Partner" by Wilson in Farmington (MO) Times, March 4, 1921

Miss Columbia appears positively underjoyed by her new dance partner in this cartoon by someone with the same name as the departing president. I know virtually nothing about Wilson the cartoonist, save that he appears to aimed his cartoons at a rural audience; they appeared on the front page of the weekly Farmington Times of St. Francois County, Missouri, until June, 1921 when he was replaced by someone named Parks. I did not find that any of his cartoons were about state or local issues, so this was likely a syndicated feature.

"Der Neue Mann im Weissen Haus" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, March 6, 1921

Across the pond, the German press, upset over the punitive postwar punishment insisted upon by France, and the Wilson administration's helplessness to do anything about it, hoped for a better deal from the New Man in the White House.

"De Verandering van Presidenten in Amerika" in De Amsterdammer, Amsterdam, March, 1921

But Harding had little interest in European affairs...

"His Legacy" by Leo Bushnell for Central Press Assn., ca. March 5, 1921

... Leo Bushnell's cartoon here notwithstanding. He left a lot of the foreign policy decision-making to his Secretary of State, Charles Evans Hughes, who nevertheless could not convince him to let the U.S. join the League of Nations or the Permanent Court of International Justice.

The U.S. would, however, sign a separate peace with Germany in August.

"Inseparable" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, March 4, 1921

Lest I leave you with the impression that there was unanimous relief at the end of the Wilson era, here's the cartoon Democrat-leaning cartoonist John Cassel had published on Inauguration Day, lauding the retiring president for his efforts to bring peace to the universe.

"The Faces at the Window" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, March 7, 1921

All the same, Cassel's first Harding cartoon during the new administration lacked the animus Cassel had leveled at Harding during the election campaign.

"Being So Long Accustomed to the Hammer..." by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 4, 1921
Another Democrat-leaning cartoonist, this one sharing a name with the new Commander in Chief, leaves us with this trenchant observation that applies to just about any time the parties in and out of power trade places. 
 
I'm not familiar with the hammer and shovel maxim having been a well-known proverb in grandpa's day. Perhaps it was just Nelson Harding's way of saying those grapes were probably sour, anyway.