Political Cartoons of the 1920's


The political events of the 1920's are not universally recognized as being filled with crucial legislation or stimulating debate. With the exception of the Teapot Dome Scandal and the ratification of the Versailles Treaty, the legislative and executive branches do not offer much for students to become excited about. To remedy this problem and educate the students about the political events of the time, this lesson incorporates political cartoons to educate the students. The lesson will concentrate on the use of humor and symbolism to deliver an editorial remark about a political event. The lesson will utilize political cartoons of the 1920's to inform the students about the political happenings and the responses to them.



-Students will understand what a political cartoon is.

-Students will recognize the use of symbolism in cartoons.

-Students will be able to recognize the political event behind the cartoon.



The decade of the 1920's is noted for its great cultural and societal events, but receives little attention for its political occurrences. With the exception of the scandals of the Harding Administration, very little was done on either the legislative or executive front during the decade that warrants major academic attention on the secondary level. This age also saw the rise of the political cartoonist as newspaper and magazine readership soared. The cartoonist, with his drawings, could say more in one cartoon than could be said by an editorial writer in a multi-page article or what a politician could say in a speech. Cartoonists had a field day with such events as the Teapot Dome scandal, the anti-immigration legislation, and the conduct of the Harding and Coolidge administrations. The political cartoons of the day offer an insightful, humorous, and student friendly way to access the political events of the day.



1) Students will be assembled in their discussion groups.

2) Through the use of an overhead, the teacher will demonstrate several examples of political cartoons from a recent political event that the students will be familiar with. The teacher will point out the use of symbolism and humor in the cartoon to demonstrate its editorial point. The teacher will lead the students through several examples and have students pick out symbolism and editorial points in the cartoon. A quick review will be done, and students will be allowed to ask questions. This part is done to familiarize the students with political cartoons dealing with a current event. The students will learn how to recognize key figures and symbolism in the cartoon from an event they are already familiar with. (10-15 minutes)

3) Each group will be given one political cartoon from the 1920's with a brief description of the event it represents. The students are to formulate group responses to the activity sheet that accompanies the cartoon. (10 minutes)

4) Each group will brief the class for five minutes on their cartoon (the teacher will have an overhead of each group's cartoon) and discuss their findings about it. (20 minutes)

5) The teacher will lead a review of the key political events that were covered in the cartoons and ask students the following: (5-10 minutes)

What do the cartoons reveal about the political climate of the 1920's?

Were there anything about the cartoons that surprised you?

Do you believe that this is an effective manner of political commentary?

6)Each student will then pick a political event from the 1920's and draw their own political cartoon with a written explanation.



Students will be evaluated on their work within the group and participation in the class discussion.



Overhead projector

Current political cartoon transparency

Political cartoon handout for students




http://www.coe.ufl.edu/courses/ed tech/vault/SS/20s/cartoon.html

Andrist, Ralph K.,ed. The American Heritage History of the 20's & 30's. New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., 1970.

Johnson, Gerald W. These Lines Are Drawn. New York: J. B. Lippencott Co., 1958.

The 1920's. Washington, D.C.: National Archives.

This Fabulous Century: Volume III: 1920 1930. New York: Time-Life Books, 1969.