“Portrait of the Regard Dictators Have…” (May 25, 1939)

“Portrait of the Regard Dictators Have…” (May 25, 1939)
by L Day
15 x 20 in., grease pencil on board
Coppola Collection

I can find no other evidence for an L Day (or even more than a handful of “Day”s) as artists. This could be a one-off, although the complexity of the composition suggests otherwise. The fires of war stir up the brew of human suffering while the dictators soak in the admiration of others — even as they pour them into the cauldron.

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete, and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and respond effectively to economic difficulties. Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society. Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature, and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation

Nazi Germany’s obvious political and military ally in Europe was Italy. The Italians had been governed by a fascist regime under Benito Mussolini since 1925. Italian fascism was very much the elder brother of Nazism, a fact Hitler himself acknowledged. And from the late 1920s, Mussolini had provided some financial support to the rising Nazi Party; he also allowed SA and SS men to train with his own paramilitary brigade, the Blackshirts. Hitler’s ascension to power in 1933 was publicly praised by Mussolini, who hailed it as a victory for his own fascist ideology.

Mussolini, who was prone to egomania, also had a low opinion of Hitler’s elevation to power, which he thought less glorious than his own. The first meeting between the two, held in Venice in June 1934, was disastrous. Mussolini spoke some German and refused to use a translator – but he had great difficulty understanding Hitler’s rough Austrian accent. The Italian was subjected to some of Hitler’s long monologues, which bored him greatly. Both men emerged from the Venice summit thinking much less of each other. But they were two peas in a pod, and the world is a big place to plunder. The Rome-Berlin Axis was formally announced on November 1, 1936, by Mussolini in a speech in Milan.

Hitler’s influence on Mussolini became evident in the Italian leader’s Manifesto of Race (July 1938). This decree, which proved very unpopular in Italy, stripped Italian Jews of their citizenship and removed them from government occupations. In September 1938 Mussolini was part of the four-nation summit on the Czechoslovakian crisis and a signatory of the Munich Agreement.

The Rome-Berlin Axis was formalized in May 1939 with the creation of another pact, in which Mussolini, the great phrasemaker, coined the Pact of Steel.

“Surprise, Surprise!” (May 22, 1939)

“Surprise, Surprise!” (May 22, 1939)
by Paul D. Battenfield (1896 – 1985)
13 x 15.25 in., Crayon in varying densities, with painted white highlights, on pebble-grain Coquille board.
Coppola Collection

Battenfield (1896-1985) was a two-time Pulitzer finalist and a mainstay of the cartoonists’ bullpen at the Chicago Times.

The Pact of Steel, known formally as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was signed by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini on May 22, 1939. The alliance originated in a series of agreements between Germany and Italy, followed by the proclamation of an “axis” binding Rome and Berlin (October 25, 1936), with the two powers claiming that the world would henceforth rotate on the Rome-Berlin axis.

The pact was initially drafted as a tripartite military alliance between Japan, Italy and Germany. While Japan wanted the focus of the pact to be aimed at the Soviet Union, Italy and Germany wanted it aimed at the British Empire and France.

Battenfield’s sarcastic take on the unconditional huggy-bear bromance between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Battenfield equips the dictators with sappy dimwit grins.

I for one would love, love, love to see the version of this with Trump and Kim and the caption of their “love letters” to one another.

The Leon T. Walkowicz’s Chicago-based archive: A patron of the arts and co-founder of the Alliance of Polish-American Veterans and the Polish-American Historical Society, Walkowicz (1898-1959) provided the basis of an influential collection at Loyola University.

“Drawing the Line” (April 14, 1939)

“Drawing the Line” (April 14, 1939)
by Jack Patton (1900-1962)
12 x 14 in., ink and crayon on board
Coppola Collection

Jack Patton was originally from Louisiana. He worked as an editorial cartoonist from the 1910s through the 1930s. In the 1930s, he was a widely read editorial cartoonist for The Dallas Morning News. His last editorial cartoons appeared at the end 1939 and perhaps through the start of 1940. During the 1930s, he also began the newspaper strip ‘Restless Age,’ which was followed by ‘Spence Easley’.

As a child, Patton read a magazine advertisement offering easy lessons in drawing. He signed up for a brief course, and it was enough to whet his appetite for a lifetime of cartooning. Scraping together enough money to get to Chicago, he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts. While at the school, he received word that the old Dallas Journal, then the evening publication of The Dallas News, needed an assistant in the art department. Hurrying back to his hometown, Mr. Patton found to his delight that he would work with veteran News cartoonist John Knott. The year was 1918 and two years later his editorial cartoons won a place on page 1 of the Journal. In the early part of his career, Mr. Patton was one of the first men in the business to put out both an editorial cartoon and a comic strip daily. The editorial cartoons had a stinging wit, and the originals were frequently requested by the subjects, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and John Nance Garner.

On April 14, 1939, FDR issued a letter to German chancellor Adolf Hitler, appealing to him to refrain from further aggression. Many of his speeches focused on the need to support American allies in Europe during the growing crisis. Shortly after Hitler formalized the annexation of Czechoslovakia, Roosevelt looked to build upon his transatlantic policy by directly contacting Hitler in an attempt to end the growing tensions in Europe.

His Excellency Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of the German Reich, Berlin, Germany

You realize, I am sure, that throughout the world hundreds of millions of human beings are living today in constant fear of a new war or even a series of wars.

 The existence of this fear–and the possibility of such a conflict–are of definite concern to the people of the United States for whom I speak, as they must also be to the peoples of the other nations of the entire Western Hemisphere.

 But the tide of events seems to have reverted to the threat of arms. If such threats continue, it seems inevitable that much of the world must become involved in common ruin. All the world, victor nations, vanquished nations, and neutral nations, will suffer. I refuse to believe that the world is, of necessity, such a prisoner of destiny.

Because the United States, as one of the Nations of the Western Hemisphere, is not involved in the immediate controversies which have arisen in Europe, I trust that you may be willing to make such a statement of policy to me as head of a Nation far removed from Europe in order that I, acting only with the responsibility and obligation of a friendly intermediary, may communicate such declaration to other nations now apprehensive as to the course which the policy of your Government may take.

Are you willing to give assurance that your armed forces will not attack or invade the territory or possessions of the following independent nations: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain and Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Russia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Iraq, the Arabias, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iran.

Such an assurance clearly must apply not only to the present day but also to a future sufficiently long to give every opportunity to work by peaceful methods for a more permanent peace. I therefore suggest that you construe the word “future” to apply to a minimum period of assured non-aggression-ten years at the least-a quarter of a century, if we dare look that far ahead.

I think you will not misunderstand the spirit of frankness in which I send you this message. Heads of great Governments in this hour are literally responsible for the fate of humanity in the coming years. They cannot fail to hear the prayers of their peoples to be protected from the foreseeable chaos of war. History will hold them accountable for the lives and the happiness of all—even unto the least.

I hope that your answer will make it possible for humanity to lose fear and regain security for many years to come.

A similar message is being addressed to the Chief of the Italian Government.

“The Amateur” (September 21, 1938)

“The Amateur” (September 21, 1938)
by Jack Patton (1900-1962)
12 x 14 in., ink and crayon on board
Coppola Collection

Jack Patton was originally from Louisiana. He worked as an editorial cartoonist from the 1910s through the 1930s. In the 1930s, he was a widely read editorial cartoonist for The Dallas Morning News. His last editorial cartoons appeared at the end 1939 and perhaps through the start of 1940. During the 1930s, he also began the newspaper strip ‘Restless Age,’ which was followed by ‘Spence Easley’.

As a child, Patton read a magazine advertisement offering easy lessons in drawing. He signed up for a brief course, and it was enough to whet his appetite for a lifetime of cartooning. Scraping together enough money to get to Chicago, he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts. While at the school, he received word that the old Dallas Journal, then the evening publication of The Dallas News, needed an assistant in the art department. Hurrying back to his hometown, Mr. Patton found to his delight that he would work with veteran News cartoonist John Knott. The year was 1918 and two years later his editorial cartoons won a place on page 1 of the Journal. In the early part of his career, Mr. Patton was one of the first men in the business to put out both an editorial cartoon and a comic strip daily. The editorial cartoons had a stinging wit, and the originals were frequently requested by the subjects, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and John Nance Garner.

September 12: Hitler made a speech in Nuremberg declaring that the oppression of Sudeten Germans must end. The speech was broadcast live to the United States by CBS Radio and was the first time that many Americans had ever heard Hitler speak.

September 13: French PM Edouard Daladier asked British PM Neville Chamberlain to make the best deal he could with Hitler.

September 15: Chamberlain boarded a plane for the first time in his life and flew to Germany to meet with Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain had already decided not to go to war over Czechoslovakia, so all that was left to negotiate was the means of meeting Hitler’s demands.

September 17: Chamberlain reported to the Cabinet on his meeting with Hitler, informing its members of his belief that a settlement of the Sudeten matter would satisfy Hitler’s aims.

September 18: Daladier came to London for a conference on Czechoslovakia. The German annexation of the Sudetenland was agreed upon.

September 19: The British and French representatives in Prague presented the Anglo-French proposal to allow the Sudetenland to be annexed.

September 20: The Czechoslovak government rejected the Anglo-French proposal; Hitler met with the Polish ambassador and told him that Germany would support Poland in a conflict with Czechoslovakia. Hitler also said he was considering shipping Europe’s Jews to a colony and expressed hope that Poland would cooperate with such a plan. He replied that if Hitler could solve the Jewish question, the Poles would build a monument to him in Warsaw.

September 21: The British and French ambassadors informed the Czechoslovakian President that his country would have to accept their plan or face Germany alone.

September 22: The Czechoslovakian government resigned.

September 25: The new Czechoslovakian President rejected Hitler’s latest demands as “an ultimatum given to a defeated nation, not a sovereign one.”

September 27: The French government announced that France would not enter a war purely over Czechoslovakia. Neville Chamberlain gave a radio address saying, “However much we may sympathize with a small nation confronted by a big and powerful neighbor, we cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the whole British Empire in a war simply on her account. If we have to fight it must be on larger issues than that.”

September 29: Adolf Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, Edouard Daladier, and Benito Mussolini met in Munich to settle the Sudetenland crisis. Czechoslovakia was not invited, neither was the Soviet Union.

September 30: The Munich Agreement: At 1 AM, the four powers at Munich agreed that Czechoslovakia would cede the Sudetenland to Germany by October 10. The territorial integrity of the rest of Czechoslovakia was guaranteed by all signatories.

Neville Chamberlain flew back to Britain and declared “peace for our time.”

October 1: There is no Munich Agreement: German troops began to occupy the Sudetenland.

October 3: Nazi Germany issued the Decree on the Confiscation of Jewish Property.

October 5: All German passports held by Jews were invalidated.

October 7: The Fascist Grand Council of Italy approved the first Italian Racial Laws, banning interracial marriage and prohibiting Jews from enrolling in the Fascist Party or serving in the military.

October 28: Some 12,000 Polish Jews were deported from Germany in the vicinity of the border town of Zbaszyn. Many of the expelled Jews were denied entry into Poland on the basis of the country’s new denaturalization law. Some went back into Germany and about 5,500 wound up staying in disused stables and other temporary shelters around Zbaszyn with nowhere else to go.

“Star Boarder Stuff” (March 24, 1932)

“Star Boarder Stuff” (March 24, 1932)
by Gaar Campbell Williams (1880-1935)
14 x 18 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Campbell was a prominent American cartoonist who worked for the Indianapolis News and the Chicago Tribune.

You want your war reparations from Germany, Uncle Sam? You best speak up and get in line. The post-WW1 economy did not enable countries to settle up on their debts and obligations.

The Hoover Moratorium was a public statement issued by United States President Herbert Hoover on June 20, 1931, who hoped to ease the coming international economic crisis and provide time for recovery by instituting a one-year moratorium on payments of German and inter-Allied war debt stemming from World War I. The proposal would postpone the repayment of both capital and interest. Many, both in the United States and abroad, were outraged by this idea.

The Hoover moratorium on payment of reparations and intergovernmental debts expired July 1, 1932.

However, neither the moratorium nor the permanent cancellation of the reparations did much to slow the economic downturn in Europe. A committee formed under the terms of Young Plan – a previous reduction in Germany’s war debt schedule – concluded that Germany would not be able to meet its obligations, and recommended that their debt be permanently cancelled. At the Lausanne Conference, later in 1932, the United Kingdom and France relieved Germany of its reparation payments, subject to their being able to reach an agreement with the United States concerning their own outstanding war debts.

“Back into Mufti” (November 11, 1923)

“Back into Mufti” (November 11, 1923)
by John Scott Clubb (1875-1934)
14 x 18 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Clubb’s daily cartoons appeared on the editorial pages for 34 years. Clubb began his career in 1900 at The Rochester Herald where he stayed until 1926. From 1926 until his death in 1934, Clubb was a cartoonist at the Rochester Times-Union. His readership extended beyond the local area, and his cartoons were reproduced in magazines and newspapers nationwide.

The Beer Hall Putsch, also known as the Munich Putsch, was a failed coup by Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders in Munich, Bavaria, on 8–9 November 8-9, 1923. About 2000 Nazis marched on the Feldherrnhalle, in the city center, but were confronted by a police cordon. Hitler escaped immediate arrest and was spirited off to safety in the countryside. After two days, he was arrested and charged with treason.

On November 10, Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany ended his exile in the Netherlands and crossed back onto German soil. Dutch authorities had informed him that he would not be allowed to return to Holland as a refugee again. After Stresemann became chancellor in August 1923, Wilhelm was allowed to return after giving assurances that he would not engage in politics.

“Mufti” is plain or ordinary clothes, especially when worn by one who normally wears, or has long worn, a military or other uniform.

The putsch brought Hitler to the attention of the German nation for the first time and generated front-page headlines in newspapers around the world. His arrest was followed by a 24-day trial, which was widely publicized and gave him a platform to express his nationalist sentiments to the nation. Hitler was found guilty of treason and sentenced to five years in Landsberg Prison, where he dictated Mein Kampf. On 20 December 1924, having served only nine months, Hitler was released.

“Touching Up the Old Sign” (August 29, 1921)

“Touching Up the Old Sign” (August 29, 1921)
by William Charles (WC) Morris (1874-1848)
17 x 22 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

WC Morris taught himself to draw at age 28. For nine years, Morris worked was a cartoonist for the Spokane Spokesman-Review in Washington. In 1913, tired of having his work censored by the paper’s managers, he moved to New York City and did freelance work for Life, Judge, Outlook, and Harper’s Weekly, before being hired by the George Matthew Adams Service, a newspaper syndicate with publications all across the country. Morris’s work was also widely reproduced in American and European magazines, including the popular satirical journal Puck. He even ventured into the new art of animated cartoons.

In 1899, Secretary of State John Hay watched China, following the devastation of the Opium Wars and growing rebellion, get its entire periphery sub-divided by the world powers: Russia, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, and Great Britain. These powers laid claim to special privileges in various parts of the country, called spheres of influence, a process that recalled the subjugation of Africa and suggested that China might be similarly partitioned. The United States, still young as a player on the world stage, was shut out of this new scramble created barriers to American trade in China.

Buoyed by the recent US victory over Spain and the possession of both Pacific and Central American assets, Hay dispatched his famous Open Door Notes to the major powers. The policy proposed that each of the powers respect the principle of equal commercial opportunity in the spheres of influence. The notes neither challenged the spheres’ existence nor demanded equal access for American investment. The Open Door policy concerned the transport and selling of American goods. The gist of the policy ended up shifting the US international interests from colonial expansion to economic influence.

The Open Door did not result in the commercial goldmine its creators imagined. And the lack of actual policy led to infighting among China’s occupiers and a growing resentment to all of this foreign meddling. There is a direct line between the Open Door Policy, international squabbling, and the Boxer rebellion in which a purge of foreigners in China, including by assassination, was carried out. The line continues, from the Boxer Rebellion to numerous smaller rebellions and the eventual end of the imperial age with the demise of the Qing in 1911.

Japan took the greatest advantage of the turmoil in China, while the US became the champion of its sovereign rights. Japan pressed ahead with terms that centered on its economic privileges, and China yielded with little delay. The US declared that it would not recognize any agreement that violated Chinese sovereignty or conflicted with the Open Door.

At the 1919 Versailles Conference, Wilson demanded that the Japanese relinquish control over Shandong province and affirm Chinese sovereignty. Japan refused. Wilson backed down, provoking fierce criticism in China.

Warren Harding, following Wilson, opted to deal with rivalries in China by gathering all of the great powers together to work out their differences and establish new principles of conduct in the Far East. The result, the Washington Conference of 1921–1922, was an important diplomatic victory for the United States and a major—if temporary—breath of life for the Open Door policy.

By 1921 warship construction consumed fully one-third of Japan’s budget. Fearing a naval arms race, Secretary of State Charles Hughes invited the foreign ministers of eight maritime nations to Washington to reduce tensions in the Far East. The Japanese government, content to pursue its aims peacefully, entered into all three of the resulting treaties. By far the most important treaty for the future of the Open Door policy was the Nine-Power Treaty that called for noninterference in China’s internal affairs and respect for the Open Door principle.

The treaty was the most promising assertion of the Open Door policy since Hay’s notes. The Hughes agreement bound all of the principal powers and even reflected input from a full-fledged Chinese delegation.

“Immigration” (April 21, 1921)

“Immigration” (April 21, 1921)
by Harold J Wahl (1900-1985)
17 x 19 in., ink on heavy paper
Coppola Collection

Wahl was the editorial cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee and was introduced to readers in 1920 in a front-page cartoon. Harold enjoyed drawing in his childhood and fondly remembered doing the artwork for Whatcom High School’s yearbook, Kulshan.  After high school he attended the Chicago Academy of fine Arts.

His first job as an artist was for the McClatchy newspapers in Sacramento California doing cartoons during the Harding era.  His pen sketched issues on the Alien Exclusion Act, Prohibition and Irish troubles.  After five years with the newspapers, Harold was called home to Bellingham to help his father with Wahl’s Department store during the depression. During this time Mr. Wahl moonlighted as a magazine artist, drawing cartoons for Liberty, MacLean’s in Canada and the Rotarian. World War II began and Harold was sent to Amchitka Island in the Aleutian Islands. He moved towards painting during his tour.

His work evolved from early near photographic images to becoming purely abstract. After retiring as a business executive in 1948, he devoted his full time to painting, whose abstract compositions always recalled his past as an illustrator.

The Immigration Act of 1921 imposed a quota system from 1921-1924, and put an end to the ideal of the United States as a refuge for those escaping their home country in hope of a better life. Although intended as temporary legislation, it proved to be the most important turning point in American immigration policy by establishing quotas based on national origin.

Warren Harding signed the law during the first year of his administration. Wilson, who served after him, opposed the legislation and twice vetoed legislation to add literacy tests. Albert Johnson was a Republican representative from the state of Washington. He chaired the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization and strongly supported total restriction.

During most of the nineteenth century, people who wanted to immigrate to the United States were able to do so. By the 1880s, however, this freedom was starting to vanish with the first law that restricted immigration in 1882, when the Chinese were barred from entering the United States. Antipathy to Chinese workers in California triggered Congress to pass this legislation due to job fears and racial bigotry. Many people believed that Chinese workers would accept lower wages than whites, enticing employers to hire them instead of native-born Americans; in addition, there were people who felt the Chinese culture was inferior and that they would never be a credit to the United States. In 1907, under an informal agreement with the government of Japan, the Japanese were added to the undesirables list. Other groups forbidden from entering the United States were those suffering from mental illness, paupers, polygamists, prostitutes, and those with a “loathsome or contagious disease.”

Anti-immigrant groups, such as the American Protective Association (established in 1887) and the Immigration Restriction League (founded in Boston in 1894), cautioned of an “immigrant invasion” that could threaten the American dream. They opposed open immigration, arguing that the immigrants came from poorer and “backward” regions of Europe. They warned that these immigrants would bring ideas of anarchism, communism, radicalism, or socialism with them, and that due to their preference of living in cities, they would contribute to the power of crooked bosses. Samuel Gompers, president of the AFL, supported their opinion, adding that since the new immigrants would accept low wages, it would lead to lower wages for all workers.

President McKinley’s assassination in 1901 led to the banning of anarchists and people who agitated for the violent downfall of the US government. In 1907, the House and Senate set up the United States Immigration Commission, and three years later this commission issued a 42-volume report recommending a cutback in immigration, claiming that immigrants were “racially inferior.” The commission warned that immigrants from eastern and southern Europe lacked intelligence and were likely to turn to crime or end up poor and sick. It suggested a literacy test and although Congress passed literary test legislation in 1912, President Taft used his veto power, pointing out that illiteracy came from a dearth of education and was unrelated to inborn intelligence. Open immigration was part of America’s history and values, and many of America’s most energetic and wealthiest citizens were illiterate when they first arrived on American shores. Had the United States excluded such people, Taft contended, America would never have attained the greatness it did.

When America entered World War I two years later, however, Congress overruled Wilson’s second veto and a reading test was administered to prospective immigrants over the age of 16. In addition, the law excluded those from China, India, and Japan, despite any degree of literacy.

Immigration rose dramatically in 1920, with fears that millions of Europe’s war refugees were about to invade the United States. Racism influenced many opinions, with Warren G. Harding, later president of the United States, calling for legislation to allow only people whose racial background proved that they could embrace American values to immigrate. Attorney Madison Grant, who became an adviser to Albert Johnson’s Immigration Committee, authored the most influential book promoting this racist view, The Passing of the Great Race in America (1916), describing society as a huge snake, with the head consisting of Nordic races, while the “inferior races” made up the tail. This sort of pseudo scientific argument resulted in the establishment of the 1921 quota system to ensure that the tail would not rule over the head.

In 1921, the House passed Johnson’s bill demanding a two-year moratorium on all immigration. The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 drastically limited immigration into the United States. In 1922, only 309,556 people legally came to America, compared with 805,228 the prior year. Quotas for Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and New Zealand generally filled rapidly, with the eastern and southern Europeans filling almost 99 percent of their quota. Emigration from Canada, Mexico, and other nations of the Western Hemisphere was not restricted, as Congress wanted to ensure a sufficient supply of cheap agricultural labor for farmers in California and Texas. China and Japan were the only countries possessing a quota of zero.

Under the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, ships filled with prospective immigrants were turned away and sent back to their place of origin. These procedures, however, were only the start, and the self-appointed guardians of American racial purity in Congress were already plotting even tighter controls.

Taken from: “Immigration Act of 1921 Imposes Quota System, 1921-1924.” Historic U.S. Events. Detroit: Gale, 2012. Gale U.S. History In Context. Web. 5 Feb. 2013.

The Act was not significantly revised until the national origins provision was removed in 1965 by LBJ, although members of the LBGT community could still excluded due to  “constitutional psychopathic inferiority” until 1990.

“The Chinese Empire” (September 7, 1899)

“The Chinese Empire” (September 7, 1899)
by Charles Lewis (Bart) Bartholomew (1869-1949)
16 x 25 in., ink on heavy paper

Charles Lewis (Bart) Bartholomew was a longtime editorial cartoonist for the Minneapolis Journal. He began working as a reporter for the Minneapolis Journal before becoming one of the first daily editorial cartoonists in the world. From 1890 to 1915, he produced an editorial cartoon almost every day, usually published on the front page. A collection of 52 drawings, all from about 1900-1910, is held by Gustavus Adolphus College. This one predates those.

“John Chinaman” was a stock caricature of a Chinese laborer seen in cartoons of the 19th century. John Chinaman represented, in western society, a typical persona of China, depicted with a long queue and wearing a coolie hat. American political cartoonist Thomas Nast, who often depicted John Chinaman, created a variant, John Confucius, to represent Chinese political figures.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term first emerged with British sailors who, uninterested in learning how to pronounce the names of the Chinese stewards, firemen, and sailors who worked as part of their crews, came up with the generic nickname of “John.”

With its weaknesses exposed during the Opium Wars in the 1850s, China began to lose power over its peripheral regions. France seized Southeast Asia, creating its colony of French Indochina. Japan stripped away Taiwan and took effective control of Korea (formerly a Chinese tributary).

The roots of the Boxer Rebellion can be found in the 1895 Euro-centric settlement after Japan’s defeat of China in the Sino-Japan War. This settlement allowed Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and Russia all to claim exclusive trading rights with specific areas of China. These areas were referred to as “spheres of influence.” Some countries went so far as to claim to actually own the land within its sphere of influence. This already volatile mix was complicated when the United States acquired the Philippines in the 1898 settlement of the Spanish-American War.

The United States had been left out of the Sino-Japan settlement, but now that it had a part of Asia, it wanted a share of China, too. China’s Empress Tsu-Hsi did not want to grant any more spheres of influence to western nations, and rejected the attempts of the United States to gain these trading rights. John Hay, the United States Secretary of State, did not think that people would be in favor of a U.S. war with China, so soon after the Spanish-American War, so he attempted another means to gain influence in China. Hay contacted the governments with Chinese spheres of influence, and tried to persuade them all to share trading rights equally, including the United States.

On September 6, 1899, U.S. Secretary of State John Hay sent notes to the major powers (France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, and Russia), asking them to declare formally that they would uphold Chinese territorial and administrative integrity and would not interfere with the free use of the treaty ports within their spheres of influence in China, as the United States felt threatened by other powers’ much larger spheres of influence in China and worried that it might lose access to the Chinese market should the country be officially partitioned. Although treaties made after 1900 refer to this “Open Door Policy,” competition among the various powers for special concessions within China for railroad rights, mining rights, loans, foreign trade ports, and so forth, continued unabated.

It was in this disorganized squabbling of foreign ownership over Chinese trade that the Boxer Rebellion began. And the Boxer Rebellion was the beginning of the end for Imperial China. In November 1899, under the rule of Empress Dowager Cixi, the secret society the Harmonious Fist (translated as “boxers”) began slaughtering foreigners. The Boxers won the Empress Dowager’s support when eight European countries sent troops. But China lost the conflict, and the West imposed sanctions that permanently weakened Qing rule.

Over the next ten years, numerous revolutionary uprisings occurred throughout China, resulting in the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 under the leadership of Sun Yat-Sen.

Thunder God and Demons (July 1, 1895)

1895.07.01 Thunder God and Demons
in “Comical Record of Japanese History” (Kokkei Yamato Hishiki)
Meiji 28
Artist: Yoshiiku
Signature: Sharakusai Yoshiiku (Utagawa Yoshiiku, 1833-1904)
artist`s seal: Sharaku

A small note: it is clear to me today, after working on placing the WW2 drawings, that what we generally think of as World War 2 was really two independent wars that merged into an even larger one. The war in the Pacific appears to have been inevitable, with Japan as the rising power in the East. The effects of industrialization, which Japan embraced, combined with the likely human failings at the end of the Qing Dynasty in China, which brought down the Empire, changed the balance and emboldened Japan. So as I think about what “pre-war” means for WW2, it is not only the rise of Mussolini’s fascism in Italy and its admiration and embrace by Hitler, it is also the rapidly changing landscape in Japan and China.

Thunder God and Demons, from the series Comical Record of Japanese History (Kokkei Yamato shiki), upper register “Newly Designed Night Parade of a Hundred Demons” (Shin’an hyakki yagyo); lower register “Shinto Rituals and Lantern Parade Celebrating Total Victory” (Zensho shukusai shinji andon)

The growth of Japan as a global power in the late 1800s, particularly with its dominance over China and then Russia, and with global leaders subdividing China, leads directly to the instability of the region and lays the groundwork for conflict in the Pacific as WW2 breaks out.

The First Sino-Japanese War (July 25, 1894 – April 17, 1895), and marked the emergence of Japan as a major world power and demonstrated the weakness of the Chinese empire. The war grew out of the conflict between the two countries for supremacy in Korea.

The war demonstrated the failure of the Qing dynasty’s attempts to modernize its military and fend off threats to its sovereignty, especially when compared with Japan’s successful Meiji Restoration. For the first time, regional dominance in East Asia shifted from China to Japan; the prestige of the Qing dynasty, along with the classical tradition in China, suffered a major blow. The humiliating loss of Korea as a tributary state sparked an unprecedented public outcry. Within China, the defeat was a catalyst for a series of political upheavals led by Sun Yat-sen and Kang Youwei, culminating in the 1911 Xinhai Revolution.

Increasing tensions between Japan and Russia were results of Russia’s unwillingness to compromise and the prospect of Korea falling under Russia’s domination and thus coming into conflict with and undermining Japan’s interests. Eventually, Japan was forced to take action. That would be the deciding factor and catalyst leading to the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05.

This print, published in July 1895, is part of a propaganda celebration of the Japanese victory over China.

The Kokkei Yamato Hi shiki is a set of nine woodblock prints comprising two connected groups of cartoons and caricatures, in two registers one above the other. The term Yamato Hi in the main title, which appears with a black rectangular cartouche on the upper margin of each sheet, is an ancient name for Japan that defies direct translation.

All the cartoon images that form the upper half of the joined set, subtitled Shin’an hyakki yako (Newly Designed Night Parade of One Hundred Ghosts) are of the so-called hundred ghosts from Japanese folk tales. The images that make up the lower half of the set, subtitled Zensho shukusai shinji andon (Shintō Rituals and Lantern Parade Celebrating Complete Victory), are caricatures of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, in which the defeated Chinese are mocked and satirized.

The nine prints read as a scroll when placed next to each other. The top inset of this print, the eighth print in the scroll, depicts various yokai, three ghostly women, three monsters and a red fish, with an inscription reading “Bay”.  The bottom inset depicts Chinese in various caricatures, including pleading “rat ships,”  a Japanese soldier as the Thunder God, a Japanese soldier dressed in kimono, and a Japanese naval officer being entreated by the Chinese “rat ships.” (See the print “Rats in a Bag” by Kiyochika for another use of this caricature).

The Ukiyo’e Caricatures 1842-1905 website of the Department of East Asian Studies – Japanese Studies, University of Vienna provides the following transcriptions of the kanji associated with each caricature in the bottom half of the print:

1. Tonbi horyo horyo
2. Genbu aitaka Sakuramaru
3. Riku wa kachi go-banzai
4. Pekin kaminari doji-oyaji
5. Hōtō ni mo fude no ayamari
6. Umi katte ji katamaru
7. Teijo jōbu ni mamorezu
8. Heijō chan nenbutsu
9. Atama kakushite shiri kakusazu

The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons is a theme that has captivated the imagination of Japanese artists for centuries. Since the Heian period (794-1185 AD), and perhaps even earlier, Japanese painters have rendered scenes of demonic creatures romping and cavorting at night. Japanese story tellers say that one night each summer all sorts of terrifying beings make their way to the mountains to enjoy themselves with games and amusements.

The publication by Toriyama Sekien of a book on Hyakki Yakō in 1776 signaled a new interest in the fantastic theme of Night Parade of One Hundred Demons, which was to last throughout the Edo and Meiji periods. Late in the nineteenth century, the printmaker Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904) produced several imaginative illustrations based on the Night Parade of One Hundred Demons. One of these was his Kokkei Wanisshi-ki (Comical Record of Japanese History), which employs the theme of 100 demons to comment on contemporary Japanese military actions in China.