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Harry Hopkins and the New Deal: As Seen by the Cartoonists

Charles Marvin Fairchild Memorial Gallery
September 15, 1998
December 14, 1998

Introduction

One of the frequent perquisites available to political office-holders at whatever level is obtaining the original versions of editorial cartoons that feature said statesman or political hack. Sometimes the cartoons come direct from the cartoonist, sometimes from a third party, and lately at least sometimes they are just plain purchased. Senator Robert F. Wagner of New York, one of the congressional leaders of the New Deal, referred to such things, when they expressed positive sentiments, as “dope,” and it’s easy to see how an office full of smiling familiar faces might have that effect. And then there was that other New Dealer, Harry Hopkins.

The 21 original cartoons in this exhibit were gathered by Hopkins during the years 1936 to 1940, the period when he first came into Roosevelt’s government as head of the WPA, became Secretary of Commerce, dealt with the 1940 census, and had a very brief fling with ideas about the presidency itself. But by Bob Wagner’s standard very few, if any, of these cartoons could be classed as “dope.” Hopkins takes his chair at Commerce and sits on something very sharp; he blows hot air at a boulder that obstructs the path of his car; he’s portrayed dressed as a Victorian undertaker; with Harold Ickes he’s seen in drag in a kitchen warring over Ickes’s PWA “dough” to Roosevelt’s somewhat amused annoyance; his programs are portrayed as merely a scam to buy votes. And the puncturing of his presidential aspirations receives the approval of the universe.

The cartoons themselves, however, are another matter. Of the 18 cartoonists represented, no less than eight were awarded one or more Pulitzer Prizes for their efforts, and a number won more than once. Their work is generally done in fairly large scale, all fully drawn at a level that most modern cartoonists would find fussy, perhaps, but challenging enough to turn out on a daily basis. The humor, when there is any, is that of “Major Hoople” and “Gasoline Alley” rather than of “Doonesbury” or “Liberty Meadows.” The cartoon subjects are adults operating in a world that isn’t very agreeable, but one where common sense and a certain degree of decency are assumed. It doesn’t matter that Harry Hopkins as “Prophet of Gloom” isn’t funny, or even that his gloom might well be justified.

Harry Hopkins’s personal papers were donated to the library by his son, Robert Hopkins, and the cartoons were a subsequent gift from Hopkins’s daughter, Diana Hopkins Halsted.

Untitled
Summers, William H., 1897-
The Cleveland News
1940
Crayon and whiting over blue pencil on board
494 x 376 mm

Untitled
Bliss
Publisher's Syndicate
1939
Ink and crayon on board
268 x 226 mm

Inscribed: "To Secretary Hopkins with best wishes Edwin Cox"

O - Woe Is me!
Hutton, Hugh M., 1897-1976
Philadelphia Inquirer
1938?
Crayon on board
417 x 308 mm

What Started Out to Be a First Class Political Asset
Ray, Silvey Jackson ("S. J."), 1891-1970
Kansas City Star
April 28, 1936
Ink on board
352 x 310 mm

Righteous Indignation!
Talburt, Harold M. ("Bill"), 1895-1966
Washington Daily News
n.d.
Crayon and whiting on board
330 x 284 mm

Talburt won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1933.

Prophet of Gloom
Lewis, Ross A., 1902-
The Milwaukee Journal
n.d.
Crayon, whiting, and ink on board
290 x 230 mm

Lewis won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1935.

Oliver Twist - Modern Version
Evans, Raymond Oscar, 1887-1954
Columbus Dispatch
May 22, 1936
Ink on board
432 x 432 mm

Good Neighbors
Evans, Raymond Oscar, 1887-1954
Columbus Evening Dispatch
August 6, 1936
Ink on board
460 x 454 mm

Inscribed: "to Mr. Harry Hopkins - compliments of Ray Evans Aug 19, 1936"

Check and Double Check
Brown, Edward S. ("Ted"), 1876-1942
New York Herald Tribune
August 12, 1938
Ink on board
340 x 270 mm

I Look to See the Relief Curve Go Down at an Early Date
Elderman, Gene
The Washington Post
October 25, 1938
Crayon on board
330 x 288 mm

Inscribed: "To: Harry Hopkins, with sincere good wishes Gene Elderman"

Two-Role Harry
Ray, Silvey Jackson ("S. J."), 1891-1970
Kansas City Star
May 19, 1938
Ink on board
355 x 310 mm

Home Again
Sykes, Charles Henry, 1882-1942
Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger
1939
Ink and crayon on board
384 x 314 mm

Inscribed: "To Harry L. Hopkins with the compliments of The Evening Public Ledger & C. H. Sykes - May 15 '39."

Wha-What?
Pease, Lucius Curtis ("Lute"), 1869-1963
Newark Evening News
n.d.
Ink, crayon, and whiting over blue pencil on board
312 x 410 mm

Pease won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1949.

Another Noble Experiement [sic]
Duffy, Edmund, 1899-1962
Baltimore Evening Sun
1939?
Ink and crayon on board
470 x 340 mm

Duffy won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1931, 1934, and 1940.

Get Out the Crowbar of Economy
Goldberg, Reuben Lucius ("Rube"), 1883-1970
New York Evening Sun
1939?
Ink and crayon on board
330 x 280 mm

Inscribed [by Goldberg]: "with personal greetings to Harry L. Hopkins" Goldberg won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1948.

Well, Well, Now We Should Get Some Place
Shoemaker, Vaughn, 1902-
Chicago Daily News
n.d.
Ink, crayon, and whiting on board
440 x 366 mm

Shoemaker won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1938 and 1947.

All the Privacy of a Goldfish
Darling, Jay Norwood ("Ding"), 1876-1962
[n.p.]
1940
Ink on board
418 x 321 mm

Darling won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1924 and 1943.

Small Potatoes
Sykes, Charles Henry, 1882-1942
Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger
1940
Ink and crayon on board
384 x 318 mm

Inscribed: "To Messrs. Wright, Hopkins et al. with the best wishes of C. H. Sykes & the Evening Public Ledger. Phila., Apr. 19, 1940."

Having Themselves Paged
Parrish, Joseph, 1905-
Chicago Tribune
1939
Ink on board
308 x 280 mm

Untitled
Berryman, Clifford Kennedy, 1869-1949
Washington Star
1940
Ink on board
310 x 356 mm

Berryman won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1944.

One Trial Balloon That Got Results
Brown, Edward S. ("Ted"), 1876-1942
New York Herald Tribune
1940?
Ink on board
342 x 268 mm