Anti-corporate cartoons, ca. 1900

The protectors of our industries, Gillam ; Mayer Merkel & Ottmann lithograph, NY, 1883. (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)These cartoons illustrate the growing hostility toward the practices of the big businesses that fueled the industrial development of the United States. In “The Protectors of Our Industries” (1883), railroad magnates Jay Gould and Cornelius Vanderbilt, department store tycoon Marshall Field, and financier Russell Sage are buoyed from the rising tide of “hard times” on the backs of workers, whose low wages are on display. “Next!” (1904) represents Standard Oil as an octopus, wrapping its tentacles around the United States Capitol, a “State House,” and the White House. Udo Keppler, Next! photomechanical print, September 7, 1904. (Library of Congres Cartoons like these helped inspire reformers to limit corporations’ control over American politics and society. In the West, anti-corporate sentiment contributed to the Democratic Party’s nomination of Nebraska’s William Jennings Bryan for the presidency in 1896.

 

 

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Discussion

These cartoons are really useful with students--it really sparks their imaginations and strengthens their ability to interpret based on contextual clues.


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