Stars of Political Cartooning – Homer Davenport
Each day this month I will be profiling a notable political cartoonist. Since the choices are vast, I’ve decided to slim the numbers down a bit and eliminate living cartoonists. Perhaps I will do a current political cartoon stars in the future.
Here‘s an archive of the artists mentioned already.
Today we look at a US cartoonist who was controversial enough that the government tried to ban his cartoons!
Homer Davenport was born in 1867 in Silverton, Oregon (Silverton has a three day festival every year celebrating Davenport) to a local big-wig at the cracker factory that was Oregon at the time.
Davenport was interested in drawing, but had no formal training, and bummed around at a few jobs until his early 20s, when the famous newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst saw something in Davenport, and brought him to New York and gave him a prominent cartoonist job in 1895.
Davenport would not disappoint, and soon, he would become one of the most popular cartoonists in the world, and in many ways, the true successor to Thomas Nast (Davenport’s mother told him stories about Nast when Davenport was a very young boy).
Davenport was a skilled draftsman and an excellent caricaturist.
He was a Democrat, and he ripped the Republicans frequently.
Here is a cartoon where he rips then-President William McKinley’s tariff bills…
Davenport was an early supporter of the Jews, as seen in this turn of the century rebuke of the Czar (by Columbia) for his treatment of the Jews in Russia…
Here, Davenport derides something that is quite common these days, the idea of the President wielding too much executive power…
Davenport’s most famous target was Mark Hanna. Mark Hanna was a major backer of William McKinley. As Davenport noted in the future, McKinley was just too goldarn squeaky-clean, so it really wouldn’t work to mock HIM, so instead Davenport (and Hearst) turned their aims on the rich industrialist and financier of McKinley’s campaign, Mark Hanna – a man who raised so much money for McKinley that when McKinley defeated William Jennings Bryan in 1896, McKinley outspent Bryan 20 to 1!
Here’s a few examples of how Davenport depicted Hanna (as the puppet master of McKinley)…
The last piece used an actual quote by Davenport, stating “I am confident that the working men are with us.”
In an intriguing display of “behind the scenes” magic (and what seems to be a bit of bragging, really), Davenport later did a famous cartoon where he showed HOW he turned Hanna into such a comical character…
This inspired the New York Legislature to try to pass a law banning cartoons.
In response, Davenport did the following brilliant piece, comparing the politician behind the bill to Boss Tweed…
“No Honest Man Need Fear Cartoons”
The bill did not pass.
After the Turn of the Century, Davenport became a Teddy Roosevelt supporter, and even supplied his OTHER most famous cartoon…
Uncle Sam: “He’s good enough for me.”
Davenport continued doing cartooning and reporting for Hearst until Davenport died in 1912 – after he caught a cold while covering the Titanic disaster.