Teddy Roosevelt and Political Cartoons

847 Words4 Pages
Since the mid-nineteenth century, American newspapers have used political cartoons to provide a unique commentary on current events. From 1884 to 1912, Teddy Roosevelt was the subject of many of these cartoons. As his political career progressed, so did his portrayal in these drawings. These changes not only show the evolution of Roosevelt, but also of the Republican (and later the Bull Moose) party.
In most of the cartoons ranging from 1884 to 1899 highlight either Roosevelt’s investigation of politics or the reforms which he brought to both the national and New York government. This makes sense, because in those years he was pretty much getting started as a politician. Once he reached a high level of the New York political scene, he began going after corruption. This is made clear in the cartoon in which Roosevelt is preparing to fight a man outside the Tammany Hall Saloon. Tammany Hall was the name of New York’s Democratic political machine, and this machine was known to be corrupt. One of Roosevelt’s first jobs was on the US Civil Service Commission, and this group was in charge of eliminating the spoils system and eliminating corruption, so this cartoon makes a lot of sense.
As Roosevelt got into his vice-presidential and early presidential years, many of the cartoons were centered around his time as a Rough Rider in the Spanish-American War. One of the depictions from 1900 shows Roosevelt on a horse with the caption “Vice-Presidential Possibilities: The Rough Rider.” Roosevelt is dressed in his military uniform, but is sitting next to a typewriter and a telephone (with wires in the background). Although the aim here is to remind the public of his heroic past, the office-like elements make Roosevelt look more official an...

... middle of paper ...

...win over the American people, they simply weren’t interested in a third term. A final cartoon shows an elephant outside of the Republican Convention. This elephant has been beaten up and ripped in half. This portrays the split that occurred between the conventional Republicans (led by Taft) and the Bull Moose Party (led by Roosevelt) that ultimately led to Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s easy victory in that year’s election.
Since their invention, political cartoons have provided for an interesting perspective on politicians and their actions. This is certainly true in the case of Theodore Roosevelt, as his portrayal in these cartoons mimicked the stages of his career. From his rise to fame as a Rough Rider to his “Big Stick” foreign policy to his demise and failed attempt at a third term, Roosevelt’s public image could always be monitored by looking in the local paper.
Open Document