I thought it would be an interesting look into our nation’s political cartoon history if, this month, I took a look at a different editorial cartoon each day that won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Do note that we’re talking basically 1922-1967 here, as since then, the Committee has almost always awarded cartoonists generally for their work, not for an exemplary single cartoon. So in many ways, this is a snapshot of American politics (for better or for worse) over a forty-five year period. Here is an archive of the cartoons featured thus far.
Today we look at Nelson Harding’s 1927 award-winning cartoon.
Nelson Harding (born in 1879) was quite familiar with war by the time he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1927 for a fairly cynical anti-war piece he produced. Harding was in the National Guard for ten years between 1898 and 1907, and actually participated in the Battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. He also served as a First Lieutenant during the first World War. After an early career as a lithographer, he turned to cartooning and in 1909, he took a position at the Brooklyn Eagle, where he would stay until 1929, when his fame grew to the point where the New York Herald came in and snatched him away.
His cartoon was published in September of 1926, and it is amusing in the way that it contrasts with Rollin Kirby’s Pulitzer Prize winning cartoon of the previous year, which I posted the other day. In that cartoon, Kirby railed against the “uncivilized” countries who chose not to take part in the League of Nations.
But by 1926, many people had soured on the concept of the League, especially in their inability to keep the major powers like France or Italy from doing anything they pretty much wanted. France just took the Ruhr and Italy just bombed the German island of Corfu, all done without sanction by the League (as France and Italy just threatened to quit if they did anything).
So by 1926, this was basically the view of the League, as a group of tiny Davids all trying to pull together to take down the Goliath of War, only not finding the task to be all that doable…
The piece is titled “Toppling the Idol”…
Impressive piece by Harding, and certainly a sad omen of what was soon to come in the World.