Political cartoons are ever-present in our world today. It would be difficult to find a daily or weekly publication today without at least one. And they have been around for a long time–perhaps longer than you might think.
There was the occasional political cartoon in 18th century magazines, only a few of which are American-themed, and fewer still can be found as most have been removed years ago. Although we have had a few in years past, we recently purchased not only a very nice one, but one from a title difficult to find in today’s world of collecting.
The November, 1776 issue of “The London Magazine: Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer”, not to be confused with the more common “Gentleman’s Magazine”. A full page plate in the issue has a very political cartoon themed on the Revolutionary War, captioned: “News From America, or the Patriots in the Dumps.” and shows Lord North standing on a platform holding a letter announcing successful campaigns by the British troops in America. A distraught woman, ‘America’, holding a liberty cap, sits at the base of the platform. Others present react to the news. There are several websites concerning this political cartoon, one of which can be seen here.
A fascinating article in the “St. Louis Globe-Democrat” of September 15, 1878 seems to include a man’s idea which is far ahead of his time. Only problem is he didn’t have access to the technological developments the next 125 years would provide.
The column heads announce: “The Newsograph” “A Most Remarkable Application of Edison’s Last Patent” “The Device of a Park Philosopher for Bringing the Word’s News To Every Man’s Home”. The article details an idea of bringing “verbal” news into every person’s home by using Edison’s phonograph patent, thereby eliminating the need for a physical newspaper (see below). A curious concept in light of today’s internet technology. Go to the link above for the full article.
It is not surprising that a Missouri newspaper (April 13, 1882) would care more about the death of Jesse James than newspapers from other states. He was killed in St. Joseph. And this being his home state, there were grumblings by many who were critical of how he was killed.
This editor pulls no punches in acknowledging the state should be glad to get rid of Jesse James, and the ‘bleeding hearts’ who bemoan his death are not accepting the reality of his terror-ridden career.
Two articles have very interesting content, one including: “…True, a pistol was not placed in his hands and he told to ‘defend himself’…” and: “…Missourians who think more of Missouri and its prosperity than they do of outlaws, thieves, murderers, need not be disturbed by the silly twaddle of certain sentimental fools in other states over the killing of Jesse James…” with more (see below).
The other article has a similar theme, including: “…The bank official of Missouri, who have been the favored prey of the dead bandit for 15 years and whose cashiers have been gagged & shot down like dogs, will not easily forget that portion of our state press which has been so ready to throw a glamour of heroism over a murderous & thieving outlaw and so quick to censure our executive for the means used in his extermination…” (see below).
When notable news breaks in today’s world, regular television and radio schedules are canceled in favor of newscasters bringing the world the latest on the event as it happens. During the Civil War, a newspaper would put out a “broadside” edition, a quickly-produced piece on a single sheet and printed on the front side only, with text limited to the event being covered. Waiting for the next day’s edition was not an option for the most competitive of newspapers.
A recent addition to our inventory is one of the best Civil War broadsides we have seen. Using type dramatically larger than found in any regular edition the broadside screams: “LATEST! The Final Blow. RICHMOND TAKEN.” The brief text provides a same-day report of the capture of the Confederate capital, with a date stamp of 11:20 noting: “…General Grant states Petersburgh has been evacuated and believe Richmond also.” And then another date stamp just ten minutes later reports: “A dispatch from E. M. Stanton announces the capture of RICHMOND by our troops under Gen. Weitzel, they having taken it about 8:15 this morning.”
The immediacy of the report along with the dramatic, graphic presentation are what excite collectors. Add to this the significance of the fall of the rebel capital and you have a terrific newspaper just perfect for display.
Wounds from the Civil War were still very fresh in the hearts & minds of the Southerners in the months after the Civil War, and perhaps sensitivities were no more acute than among the residents of Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy up to the closing days of the war.
With this in mind, a new newspaper was begun in the city of Richmond during the closing day of April, 1865, the same month the capital fell to the Yankees. The newspaper was announced in the April 20 issue of the “Richmond Whig”, the announcement headed: “A New Morning Paper – The Richmond Times” and the text including: “…The paper will be under the exclusive editorial charge & control of Mr. H. Rives Pollard, late of the Richmond Examiner, and the first number will appear on Friday…will be devoted to the honor and interest of Virginia…For the present at least–until Virginia shall have emerged from the existing chaos and confusion–the Times will studiously refrain from all editorial comment & will be devoted exclusively to the news of the day. It must be obvious to every reflecting mind that the present is no time for editorial comment or stricture, and that it would only serve to fan the flame of excitement…”.
It is nice to read that there was compassion among the victorious Yankees as the occupied Richmond. There were certainly options that could only have hurt the cause of reunion, but the publisher wisely opted to consider discretion as the better part of valor.
Perhaps a precursor to what would now be a typical Facebook post…
The June 19, 1804 issue of “The Balance & Columbian Repository“ newspaper from Hudson, New York, has a brief and seemingly purposeless news report reading in its entirety: “Monticello–Yesterday morning the President arose precisely fifty-nine minutes past four, and put on a clean shirt and breeches.” Had this appeared on the President’s Facebook page today, what might be some of the comments from his followers?
It was a surprise when I opened an 1884 issue of the “St. Louis Globe-Democrat“ to find a print of Pat Garrett, the noted sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico, who: “…did the world a great service in ridding it of Billy the Kid, the most cold-blooded and cruel desperado of modern times…” as the article notes. Never before have I seen a print of Garrett in any periodical. Is anyone aware of an earlier print, or any print of him from any date?
This issue is from over 3 years after he killed Billy the Kid, his likeness appearing in the newspaper because he attended a convention of cattlemen held in St. Louis at this time.
What do race riots, Kevlar, Star Trek, and Pet Sounds have in common? They all have their roots firmly established in the year 1966. While the 11:00 news brought daily reminders of the horrors of war, many back home were additionally distraught by the $14,000 price-tag for a new home and the 32 cent per gallon price they were paying for gas to fuel their gas-guzzling Bonnevilles and Oldsombiles. Young men were conflicted over whether to ogle more over Chargers, Mustangs, and GTO’s, or the most amount of bare leg they had ever seen thanks to the ever-popular mini skirt. Just for fun, we selected a New Year’s Eve issue from small-town Kansas (Parsons, Kansas) to explore how those who lived at the time viewed this tumultuous and formative time in both American and world history. Of particular note is the editorial regarding honesty in Washington, D.C.. Please enjoy: New Year’s Eve – 1966
The April 8, 1882 issue of the “Garfield Banner” from Tin Cup, Colorado, has an interesting article on the front page reading: “Jesse James has been killed again. This time a member of the gang named Bob Ford, a cousin of Jesse, is the man who killed him. Ford had been with Jesse about a week seeking an opportunity to kill him,and finally shot him in the back of the head, the ball coming out over his left eye.”
They should have published why the first time he was killed it didn’t work.
I’ve always referred to it as a newspaper to distinguish it from their own sister publication “Harper’s New Monthly Magazine” which, being smaller, many more pages, and issued monthly, is a more definitive magazine. Early in its history the weekly called themselves a “family newspaper”, and modeled themselves against “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper” which began about a year earlier. If Leslie’s was a “newspaper” then certainly Harper’s Weekly was a “newspaper” as well.
However, in Mott’s “History of American Magazines” he includes a section for Harper’s Weekly, as well as one for Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and other similar weeklies. Then he confuses the issue a bit more in the second volume of his book (pg. 43) by stating: “Half a dozen copiously illustrated weeklies of general appeal must be grouped separately. It would not be inappropriate to classify these periodicals as newspapers, since they all relied much upon the reporting of current events: indeed, one of them called itself a newspaper in its title. But they were all very much more than newspapers, and they placed the emphasis on features of appeal which belonged more characteristically to the magazine than to the newspaper–namely, pictures and belles-lettres…”.