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Analyzing Political Cartoons



Published in News & Politics
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  • Some historians believe that Italian’s Leonardo DaVinci’s paintings were the beginnings of the use of caricatures that included deformed peopleFrench’s Honore Daumier; known as the “Father of Cartooning”; portrayed King Louis Phillip; at one point he was imprisoned for 6 monthsSlowly as people moved to Britain, more and more cartoons several depicting their disgrace with the King and Queens. Many artists ended in prison or were executed.Benjamin Franklin, 1st known political cartoon (May 9, 1754); “Join or Die” both used during the French and Indian War and then revamped to Unite or Die for the American RevolutionThomas Nast: Father of American Political Cartooning; known to create the Democrat and Republican party symbols and Santa Clause
  • High illiteracy rates, cartoons allowed people to be involved in politics
  • 1. Date: November 28, 20092. Source: Washington Examiner (conservative viewpoints; supported/endorsed McCain in presidential election 2008)3. Title: The Wishbone4. Labels: Recession5. Large, strong bald man with recession on his arm; Uncle Sam shaped like a wishbone, smaller President Obama6. Large man symbolizes the huge problem of recession; Uncle Sam symbolizes the U.S. government and the wishbone symbolizes the “winner” who has the most of the wishbone when broken7. The large, strong man with his arm labeled recession is holding one leg of a wishbone who is Uncle Sam while President Obama is holding the other leg8. Message: varies The recession is still in full effect and people are suffering. The government has done very little in helping the economy to flourish. President Obama looks dazed; weak in helping in the economy
  • Date: November 20, 1869Source: Harper’s WeeklyTitle: Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving DinnerLabels: Lincoln, Washington, Grant, Self Government, Universal Suffrage, Come One Come All, Free and Equal, Welcome, 13th Amendment. Castle Garden (Castle Garden existed as a processing station for immigrants between 1855 and 1890 at Ellis Island)Describe the people and their actions: People and children of varying descents (Asian, Italian, Native American, Spain, African Americans, colonists, Jewish, Romans eating and talking at a table. Objects: cake, flags, pictures, portraits, wine, turkey, roman figuresSymbols: American flag symbolizes freedom, liberty; Roman structures symbolizing justicesAction: Everyone is talking and eating at a Thanksgiving dinnerFinally everyone can be together; America’s land after Washington, Lincoln, Grant and CW and Ellis Island. America “land of free, home of the brave”
  • Date: October, 24,1874Source: Harpers WeeklyTitle: Worse than SlaveryLabels: White League, K.K., school house, The UNION AS IT WAS, THIS IS A WHITE MANS GOVERNMENT, THE LOST CAUSEPeople: confederate soldier with label “WHITE LEAGUE” sneaking holding hands with a smiling KKK with a knife; AA family crouching down hiding; knife, gun, burning school house, opened alphabet book, hung AA, skeleton, eagle, crestEagle symbolizes America, bones symbolizes death, crest symbolizes a whole ancestry, KKK symbolizes hatred, guns symbolize protection, death, pain, Confederate soldier symbolizes South, book symbolizes educationConfederate soldier holding hands of KKK while holding up a crest of AAThe KKK has joined hands with other Southern sympathizers to continue to harass AA


  • 1. Analyzing Political Cartoons
  • 2. Caricatures
    A portrait that exaggerates or distorts some characteristics of a person or thing.
  • 3.
  • 4. Caricatures
    A portrait that exaggerates or distorts some characteristics of a person or thing.
    Caricature means a “loaded portrait” from the Italian word “caricare”
    Person is clearly identifiable.
    Complimentary or insulting
    Serves for political purposes or entertainment
    Open to several interpretations
  • 5.
  • 6. F.Y.I. (A Little History)
    Mid 1700s
    Benjamin Franklin
    Honore Daumier
    Thomas Nast “Father of American Cartooning” (late 1700s)
  • 7. SYMBOL: an object, picture, word, or type of mark that represents something
  • 8.
  • 9. Common Editorial Images
  • Editorial Cartoons
    “A picture is worth a thousand words”
    • A current message about the character, event or issue
    • 28. Subjective; open to interpretation
    • 29. Uses some truth, caricatures, symbols, sarcasm, irony, & metaphors
  • Let’s
    What is the date?
    What is the source?
    What is the title?
    List all labels.
    Describe the people &/or objects.
    Describe what each symbol means.
    Describe the action taking place.
    In your opinion, what is the message?
    Source: Washington Examiner
    Artist: Nate Beeler
    Date: November 28, 2009