The Cartoons of World War I

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about our script Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy. The script is finished and being shopped around to production companies.

Over the course of time we’ve been looking at the history and culture of that era.

Through the years, political cartoons have been used to express the mood of a nation. The same was true during World War I when not everyone supported the effort or U.S. involvement. Here are ten examples of the cartoons of the day.

A dentist (Uncle Sam) about to extract a tooth from a patient (Kaiser Wilhelm II); representing America’s successful involvement in the First world war. Pen drawing by P. Forbes-Robertson, 1918. Iconographic Collections Keywords: Uncle Sam; world war, 1914-1918.

 

‘Bravo, Belgium !’ Political cartoon showing a Belgian farmer standing up to the German aggressor.

Blessed are the Peacemakers by George Bellows. Anti-war cartoon depicting Jesus with a halo in prison stripes alongside a list of his seditious crimes. First published in The Masses in 1917.

 

Cartoon by Jay N. Darling. Uncle Sam carries a dead soldier, representing the first reported U.S. casualties from World War I

 

The Cartoon Book was published by the US Government in 1918, with the intention of promoting the third Liberty Loan; various cartoonists, including Bushnell, donated their work. Here, the accusing hand of Uncle Sam points at an arrogant Prussian officer standing before the flaming wreckage of Europe.

 

His Best Customer (1917) by Winsor McCay. Anti-war cartoon depicting War serving Death with the caption “His Best Customer.”

 

Uncle Sam with empty treasury. Reference to economic situation at end of World War I.

 

This is likely Will Dyson’s most famous cartoon of World War I.

 

Cartoon shows the figure of Peace as a pretty woman and angel, standing in the aisle of a train or bus, while Senators Borah, Lodge, and Johnson occupy the seats. The cartoon refers to the successful efforts of the Republican isolationists after World War I to block Senate ratification of the Treaty of Versailles establishing the League of Nations.

 

“The Spirit of ’76”, cartoon about the U.S. entry to World War I. Uncle Sam (U.S.) handing Marianne (France) a sack labeled One Billion Dollars while Lafayette looks on.

 

The War wasn’t popular. War never is. American reluctantly entered near the end of the war and most of the country rallied behind the cause. This was the war to end war that did nothing of the kind. But, it changed the course of the 20th century and we still feel the effects some 100 years later.

Cartoon Source: Wikipedia

 

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Why were WWI Soldiers called Doughboys?

We’re not talking about Pillsbury.

Doughboy was a terms used to describe members of the U.S. Army or Marine Corps, most often use for members of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. While origins of the term are unclear it was initially sued in the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. There are other uses throughout history.

While World War I began in 1914, the United States didn’t enter the conflict until 1917, in part due to the American sentiment that we didn’t go fight wars for other people.

Because of the later entrance into the war, one of the jokes surrounding the term was that the doughboys were “kneaded” in 1914, but didn’t “rise” until 1917.

But for the script I’m working on, it’s a term of endearment used for my grandfather and his buddies. These doughboys came from the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountain and traveled to a far land to fight for their country. Many didn’t return.

All who did return were changed.