“Campaign Cigar” (October 12, 1936)
by Hugh McMillen Hutton (1897-1976)
12 x 18 in., ink and crayon on heavy board
Hugh M. Hutton (1897-1976) was an American editorial cartoonist who worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer for over 30 years.
Hugh Hutton grew up with an artistic mother. After attending the University of Minnesota for two years, Hutton enlisted in the armed forces and served in World War I. Hutton pursued coursework in art through correspondence school, the Minneapolis School of Art and the Art Students League.
He worked at the New York World from 1930 to 1932 and with the United Features Syndicate in 1932 and 1933, drawing illustrations and comic strips. Hutton relocated to Philadelphia and worked as the cartoonist at the Public Ledger in 1933 and 1934. He became the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial cartoonist in April 1934, where he stayed throughout his career, retiring in 1969.
In April 1935, still struggling with the Great Depression, the US dramatically increased funds for helping the unemployed by creating the Works Progress Administration (WPA), an agency to employ 3.5 million people nationally with a budget of almost $5 billion. The federal government ended direct relief or handouts (states would do that) and focused on providing jobs in federal agencies like the WPA. Roosevelt insisted that WPA wages exceed levels for handouts but not wages in the private sector.
During the 1936 Democratic gubernatorial primaries, promises by local WPA leadership in exchange for political support surfaced. In North Carolina, $25,000 was given to the local WPA chief to distribute, in exchange for lists of key WPA personnel in the state. The incumbent Senator used lists of WPA personnel in his 1936 reelection campaign. The relief agency, with thousands of employees, had a significant influence in close Democratic primaries.
In 1939 Congress passed the Hatch Act, which limited political activities of federal employees, such as those in the WPA. Damn those quid-pro-quo laws, anyhow!