The Pulitzer-Winning Cartoon That Touted Herbert Hoover's Economist Skills

This is Past Was Close Behind, a feature that spotlights moments, exchanges, etc. from older comics that take on a brand new light when read in concert with later comic books or events. Basically, stuff that looks hilarious in hindsight.

Today, we look at the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoon that looks a bit amusing in hindsight.

Jay “Ding” Darling was an acclaimed cartoonist…

Who was also one of the leading wildlife preservationist in the country, which became a recurring theme in his editorial cartoons…

Despite being a Republican, Franklin Delano Roosevelt put Darling in charge of a lot of wildlife projects in the 1930s and Darling did a lot of early work in the field, helping to form the National Wildlife Federation in 1936.

Anyhow, Darling won the second-ever Pulitzer Prize awarded for editorial cartooning, with the following cartoon, “In Good Ol’ U.S.A.,” published in the Des Moines Register and Leader in May of 1923, only months before one of the subjects in the following cartoon passed away (Darling had been a famous New York cartoonist before moving back to where his career started in Iowa, where his cartoons would appear in the Des Moines Register and Leader and then get serialized in the New York Herald Tribune)

Click here to enlarge the cartoon.

It is a very nice commentary by Darling about the importance of having drive to achieve success in life, although to be frank, as well-executed as it was, it seems hard to believe that this was considered the most notable political cartoon of the entire year.

That being said, let’s take a look at the three men discussed in the cartoon. We’ll go in reverse order!

The third subject is Warren Harding, the 29th President of the United States, who passed away in August of 1923.

Harding did, indeed, apprentice as a printer, but his father also happened to own a newspaper, which is where Harding truly became famous. He bought the Marion Daily Star (in Marion, Ohio) and soon turned it into one of the most popular newspapers in the country.

He was elected to the US Senate in 1915 and in 1920, he was elected President of the United States, becoming the first of only three sitting US Senators to become the President of the United States (President Obama was the third).

He died of either a heart attack or a stroke in August of 1923.

The second subject is Dr. Frederick Peterson (1859-1938).

Peterson WAS one the world’s leading neurologists (in a time when neurology was quite a new science) and was an early proponent of psychoanalysis, being one of the first people to ever publish Freud and Jung’s theory of Free Association.

He also was a great humanitarian, and he DID, as Darling mentions, do a great deal of work for children, specifically improving the teaching of good health in the public school systems.

He also happened to be a close personal friend of Ding Darling.

The first subject was born in 1874 and died in 1964. His parents died in 1880 and 1884, leaving him an orphan at the age of 9 (which is odd, since Darling says 8). He was raised by his grandparents and his uncle, and worked during his teen years while attending night school on his own. He attended Stanford University in 1891 (the very first year the place opened!) and graduated with a degree in geology in 1894.

He went to work for a London-based firm in Australia, and eventually became one of the top engineers in the world. He was sent to work in China for a private corporation. While there, he and his family were actually trapped in their settlement during the Boxer Rebellion.

He became an extremely successful businessman, and when World War I broke out, he used his clout to do a great deal of charity work.

After the war, he got involved in politics and was the Secretary of Commerce for Warren G. Harding and Hardin’s successor, Calvin Coolidge, a post which he turned into one of the preeminent roles in American politics during his time in the Cabinet.

He eventually would be elected to succeed Coolidge, and he became the 31st President of the United States.

Also known as Herbert Hoover.

Yep, he definitely rid the world of depression. Yessir, indeed. Well, either that or the Great Depression started during his Presidency. Either or.

The six youths standing around the drug stores all died penniless and unloved.

Well, I assume, at least.

If anyone else has a suggestion for some hilarious in hindsight stuff, let me know by dropping me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

In their spotlight on interesting in hindsight comic moments, CSBG looks at the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoon that touted Hoover's economist skills.

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