Stars of Political Cartooning - Clifford "CK" Berryman

Each day this month I will be profiling a notable political cartoonist. Since the choices are vast, I've decided to slim the numbers down a bit and eliminate living cartoonists. Perhaps I will do a current political cartoon stars in the future.

Here's an archive of the artists mentioned already.

Today we look at the Pulitizer Prize-winning cartoonist who helped give the world the teddy bear.


Clifford K. Berryman was born in Kentucky in 1869.

He moved to Washington DC where he worked for the US Postal Service before beginning an amazing FIFTY-EIGHT year career as a political cartoonist in Washington DC, first for the Washington Post (1891-1907) and then at the Washington Star (and the Post, for a bit towards the end) (1907-1949).

Berryman was the ultimate Washington insider, and his comics reflected this, as he always came across as a very knowing observer of the political scenes - he had these characters he would use often that were bees to represent the Washington "buzz."

Part of the reason Berryman was so plugged in was the detached manner in which he delivered the news in his cartoons - he told people when they were in trouble, but he was equally tough on every political party, and in fact, he really wasn't "tough" on ANY of them.

This was no Robert Minor or Boardman Robinson here - Berryman's political cartoons are the types you could easily give to children to explain politics, and even today, they serve as great teaching tools.

For all his political cartooning (he won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1943, just six years before his death - although it was more of a "lifetime achievement type of deal), Berryman is going to forever be known as the guy who inspired the creation of the teddy bear.

Berryman drew a cartoon in 1902 depicting a hunting expedition by Theodore Roosevelt where he refused to kill a bear. The act of humanity (and Berryman's cartoon) led to a toy store owner creating a "Teddy bear," which are still made today (and almost certainly the reason that Roosevelt is known today as Teddy Roosevelt when he never liked that name back then, preferring TR as a nickname).

Berryman would keep using the "Teddy Bear" in his cartoons, even after Roosevelt left office.

That's actually kinda odd.

Anyhow, here are a sampling of Berryman's gentle political humor...

Here, the buzz of a Supreme Court justiceship is thwarted in favor of the buzz of a Presidential nomination for William Taft in 1908, which Roosevelt presumably offered Taft when Taft was hoping Roosevelt would make him a Justice...

However, Roosevelt quickly began to doubt his decision not to seek a third-term (Roosevelt was in the odd category of taking over for a murdered President, should his first term count as an actual term if he was not elected AS President? Heck, what is the ruling today?)

So Berryman showed him as Hamlet - to run or not to run?

He ultimately did not run.

However, in 1912, Roosevelt officially changed his mind about not seeking a third term for President.

Here, Roosevelt is haunted by the third-term principle (which he spoke of when saying he would not seek re-election in 1908)....

After two terms of Woodrow Wilson, Roosevelt was the presumptive Republican candidate in 1920, but he screwed that up by dying in 1919, making it a free for all.

There was a similar free for all in 1924, when Berryman showed a great amount of Democrats throwing their hat in the ring for the 1924 Democratic nomination...

Here, Berryman shows Henry Ford declining the thought of him seeking a Presidential nomination...

Here, Harding wishes he had the approval ratings of Babe Ruth...

Finally, here is a trio of political cartoons that can be tied into today's political climate.

First, a glimmer of hope for McCain...

Secondly, a glance at what the candidates will be feeling like Tuesday....

Finally, a look at what the New Year will likely be like (although hopefully 2009 will be better than 1932)

Thanks to the Clifford K. Berryman Political Cartoon Collection for the images!

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