Herblock Looks at: 1965 | 1964 | 1963 | 1962 | 1961 | Communism

During the third and final year of the presidency of John F. Kennedy (1917–1963), international issues had overwhelmed domestic concerns. Herblock’s sharp pen addressed the need for a nuclear weapon test ban and supported Kennedy’s trip to Europe, where the U.S. president encouraged European leaders to collaborate on defense issues. Herblock’s cartoons also focused on Asia, as China developed its own style of communism. He took the administration to task for approving the assassination of South Vietnam’s corrupt President Ngo Dinh Diem, as it struggled against communism in Southeast Asia.

But it is the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, that dominates the memory of American history fifty years ago. Herblock admired Kennedy and drew numerous cartoons that conveyed the widespread grief over the death of the popular president and the sense of a lost hope for a better world. A longtime advocate of gun control, Herblock also vented his anger at the ease with which guns could be obtained to wreak enormous tragedy.

Exhibition dates: September 21, 2013–March 29, 2014

“Why Don't We Have the Thirty Budgets of Ben Franklin's Day?”

When President Kennedy proposed a fifty-two million dollar budget for the Department of Defense, Herblock questioned cutting money for ground troops in Vietnam (represented by the Minuteman soldier) in order to expedite production of Minuteman missiles. Fearing a “missile gap,” as Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union continued, the United States funded the missile defense system.

Why Don’t We Have the Thrifty Budgets of Ben Franklin's Day? 1963. Published in the Washington Post, January 18, 1963. India ink, graphite and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (001.05.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-hlb-05772] © Herb Block Foundation

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“Bah!—You Haven't Been Trying To Make it Grow”

By depicting the ease with which Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev could kill an anemic flower, Herblock reminded the “West” (the United States and the United Kingdom) that their hard work to find common ground was pathetic. Both needed to work more vigorously to end the risk of radiation caused by testing nuclear weapons. The following summer, the negotiators limited the ban to atmospheric and underwater testing and signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in Moscow on August 5, 1963.

Bah! —You Haven’t Been Trying To Make It Grow,” 1963. Published in the Washington Post, May 2, 1963. Graphite and India ink with overlay over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (002.05.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-hlb-05845] © Herb Block Foundation

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Cold Line

While the Cold War was usually portrayed as an East-West conflict, Herblock understood that the greatest international tension came from the differences between Soviet and Chinese interpretations of communism. Lines of communication between Beijing and Moscow froze, and Soviet domination in the communist world declined when the Soviet Union negotiated a Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The ideological differences played out in the world theater—Khrushchev backed down during the Cuban Missile Crisis, while China forcefully pushed into Southeast Asia.

Cold Line, 1963. Published in the Washington Post, July 11, 1963. Graphite and India ink with overlay over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (003.05.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-hlb-05890] © Herb Block Foundation

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Diem-Nhu Regime

Herblock acknowledged Vietnam as a political hot spot before most Americans had even heard that President Kennedy had committed ground troops to the war there. When South Vietnam’s President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu were murdered on November 2, 1963, their repressive regime collapsed under a military coup. The fire scorching the pants of the figurative regime also alluded to the self-immolation of Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc. In protest of persecution by Diem’s government, Duc had burned himself to death in Saigon on June 10, 1963.

[Figure representing Diem-Nhu regime running away from Vietnam War fire] 1963. Published in the Washington Post, November 4, 1963. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (004.05.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-hlb-05970] © Herb Block Foundation

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“After All, These Men Are Mortal—And Who Will I Be Dealing With After They're All Gone?”

Touring Europe to encourage more North Atlantic political and economic partnerships, President John F. Kennedy’s popularity increased in 1963. Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970), president of the French Republic, preferred the European Economic Community and refused to participate in Kennedy’s negotiations for the defense of Europe as a whole. Considering the pomposity of Charles de Gaulle, Herblock wrote, “If there is a de Gaulle motto, it might be: In defeat, unbearable; in victory, insufferable.” Here, Herblock offered an uncanny prediction of the untimely end to the Kennedy presidency.

After All, These Men Are Mortal—And Who Will I Be Dealing With After They’re All Gone? 1963. Published in the Washington Post, June 28, 1963. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (005.05.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-hlb-05883] © Herb Block Foundation

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Sportsmen! Kids! Maniacs!

Angered about the ease with which Lee Harvey Oswald purchased a 6.5 mm Carcano rifle, model 91/38, to kill President Kennedy, Herblock spoofed existing firearm advertisements. This cartoon appeared with a strongly worded Washington Post editorial decrying the effortlessness of obtaining a firearm and pointing out that all four assassinated presidents had been victims of guns: “What lunacy is it, what bemusement with a frontier past long vanished, that leads the people of this land to allow firearms to be sold and possessed in the United States uncontrolled?”

Sportsmen! Kids! Maniacs! 1963. Published in the Washington Post, November 27, 1963. Graphite, ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (006.05.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-hlb-05988] © Herb Block Foundation

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Long Shadow

A hooded figure of death casts a long pall over the future while clutching a funerary wreath for John F. Kennedy as Herblock imagined a darker world without the president and his vision in this drawing. Herblock mourned the loss of hope for the world, which Kennedy symbolized for him. This cartoon was published the day that Kennedy was buried.

Long Shadow, 1963. Published in the Washington Post, November 25, 1963. Graphite, India ink and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (007.05.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-hlb-5986] © Herb Block Foundation

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“I Still Can't Believe It”

Nearly 93 percent of Americans watched the television news after President John F. Kennedy was killed on November 22, 1963. Previously considered primarily an entertainment medium, television stations concentrated on news coverage during the weekend after the assassination. The broadcasts offered information, covered the murder of Kennedy’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, and showed public memorial services. Only later, however, was the live film captured by Abraham Zapruder made available. It aired for the first time on ABC’s Good Night America on March 6, 1975.

I Still Can’t Believe It,” 1963. Published in the Washington Post, November 24, 1963. Graphite and India ink with overlay over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (008.05.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-hlb-5985] © Herb Block Foundation

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“With A Good Conscience Our Only Sure Reward. . . .”

Using lines from President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address, Herblock mourned his death along with the rest of the nation. This cartoon appeared in newspapers while the president’s casket laid in state in the East Room of the White House. This somber depiction of grief, represented the deep loss shared by Americans regardless of race, gender, age, or political affiliation.

With A Good Conscience Our Only Sure Reward, with History the Final Judge of Our Deeds, Let Us Go Forth to Lead the Land We Love. . . , 1963. Published in the Washington Post, November 23, 1963. India ink, graphite and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (009.05.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-hlb-05984] © Herb Block Foundation

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Let Us Continue

President Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908–1973) rallied the country to the cause and ideals of his predecessor in his first address to a joint session of Congress after the death of John F. Kennedy. Johnson said, “This is our challenge—not to hesitate, not to pause, not to turn about and linger over this evil moment but to continue on our course so that we may fulfill the destiny history has set for us.” Herblock portrays a congressman sitting at his desk faced with the pressing, legislative agenda that the assassinated president had set in place.

[Congressman at desk reading memo, “Let us continue,” L.B.J.] 1963. Published in the Washington Post, November 28, 1963. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (010.05.00) [Digital ID# LC-DIG-hlb-05989] © Herb Block Foundation

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In 1963, during the third and final year of his presidency, John F. Kennedy (1917–1963) faced repeated opposition to his legislative initiatives. Republicans rebuffed his calls for a lasting peace and argued against the signing of a nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviet Union. When he wanted to offer tax cuts to reduce economic stagnation, Kennedy fought with his own political party in the Democrat-controlled Congress. His efforts to increase resources for schoolchildren and to protect the wilderness met with resistance from both political parties. Congress resisted most strongly, however, Kennedy’s attempts to improve the lives of African Americans.

Herblock, the nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post newspaper, had a front row seat on the Civil Rights Movement, which gained momentum through the March on Washington that took place on August 28, 1963. Emphasizing that the United States was built and maintained on documents that called for equality, he chastised whites who used violence to reinforce a second-class status for African Americans. Herblock insisted that progress depended on improvement for everyone.

Exhibition dates: March 30, 2013–September 14, 2013

“Reminds Me of That Crazy Idea of Henry Ford’s That You Can Make More Selling at Lower Prices”

Herblock criticized the conservative reaction to President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 State of the Union message by pointing out that if rich men couldn’t see how successful Henry Ford had been by selling more cars at lower prices, then they couldn’t be expected to understand Kennedy’s economic stimulus idea either. Kennedy believed that cutting the income tax rate from a 20–90 percent to the 14–65 percent range would stimulate the stagnant economy. Republicans urged the president instead to reduce spending. They pointed to the failure of foreign aid to compel communist countries toward democracy and argued that domestic spending only increased the number of people enrolled in welfare.

Reminds Me of That Crazy Idea of Henry Ford’s That You Can Make More Selling at Lower Prices,” 1963. Published in the Washington Post, January 20, 1963. Graphite, ink brush, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (001.04.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05773] © Herb Block Foundation

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“We Can’t Burden Our Children with Deficit Spending”

By portraying a schoolchild weighed down by ignorance, poverty, and crime, Herblock objected to the resistance from Republican legislators to the Kennedy administration’s omnibus education bill, the National Education Improvement Act of 1963. Opposition to the 4.6-billion-dollar proposal focused on its cost and the increase to deficit spending. But concern about desegregation, federal involvement in funding education, and support for religious-based education also motivated the opponents. Herblock wrote, “Otherwise bright and influential citizens have yet to establish the connection between ignorance and poverty, education and employment, purchasing power and prosperity.”

We Can’t Burden Our Children with Deficit Spending,” 1963. Published in the Washington Post, January 31, 1963. Ink brush, graphite, opaque white, and overlay over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (002.04.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05781] © Herb Block Foundation

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“As I Was Saying, a Test Ban Agreement Might Have Resulted in a Fatal Gap”

By depicting Republican Party presidential hopeful Barry Goldwater (1909–1998) as a skeleton standing on the edge of a nuclear missile crater, Herblock argued that the “fatal gap” Goldwater had described would exist even if nuclear testing continued. Herblock agreed with the Kennedy administration’s support of a nuclear test ban agreement with the Soviet Union, while Goldwater believed that the United States should develop anti-ballistic missiles and spend less effort on a non-military space race.

As I Was Saying, a Test Ban Agreement Might Have Resulted in a Fatal Gap,” 1963. Published in the Washington Post, August 14, 1963. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (003.04.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05913] © Herb Block Foundation

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“Make Yourself Comfy in Our Little Lodge”

To accuse Colorado Democat Wayne Aspinall (1896–1983) of the House Interior Committee of killing the 1963 Wilderness Bill, Herblock drew an elderly lodge keeper beckoning a hiker indoors where a certain death awaits him. Because Aspinall challenged the ability of the executive branch to set aside millions of acres of land for public recreation, arguing that it was the right of Congress, Herblock singled him out for caricature. While the measure passed in the Senate, the actions of the House’s Interior Committee effectively ended it.

Make Yourself Comfy in Our Little Lodge,” 1963. Published in the Washington Post, April 11, 1963. Graphite, ink brush, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (004.04.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05829] © Herb Block Foundation

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“Who Said Anything About Driving Out Castro? We’re Talking About Kennedy”

Everett Dirksen (1896–1969) the Republican senator from Illinois, stated in a press conference about Cuba, “Mr. President, I think you should know we’re going to continue to pummel you about Cuba. There are going to be some brickbats thrown at you and not of the embroidered kind.” Herblock perceived the speech as an attempt to undermine the Kennedy administration internationally because Dirksen did not support either Kennedy’s blockade of Cuba or a physical attack on Castro. The cartoon’s imaginary back-room Republican Party strategy meeting presented generic images of legislators.

Who Said Anything about Driving out Castro? We’re Talking about Kennedy,” 1963. Published in the Washington Post, February 26, 1963. Graphite, ink brush, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (005.04.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05799] © Herb Block Foundation

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“You Know What? A Lot of People Down Here Are Just Plain Prejudiced Against Us”

Herblock wrote in his 1964 compilation of cartoons, Straight Herblock, “There will continue to be bigots and terrorists who will make it difficult for Negroes to remain patient and nonviolent.” In May 1963, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference held a Children’s Crusade to reinvigorate support for the Civil Rights Movement. The young marchers were blasted by fire hoses, bitten by police dogs, and arrested. A bi-racial committee convinced the city to desegregate stores in Birmingham and end the demonstrations.

You Know What? A Lot of People Down Here Are Just Plain Prejudiced Against Us,” 1963. Published in the Washington Post, May 10, 1963. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (006.04.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05851] © Herb Block Foundation

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“You Don’t Understand, Boy—You’re Supposed to Just Shuffle Along”

Sympathizing with African Americans tired of hearing “It takes time,” Herblock played on southern whites’ fear of change as African Americans used the political system and non-violent demonstrations to empower themselves. Herblock later quoted President John F. Kennedy, “The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as they want to be treated.” National African-American organizations mobilized in 1963 with a new sense of urgency, “Freedom can’t wait.”

You Don’t Understand, Boy—You’re Supposed to Just Shuffle Along,” 1963. Published in the Washington Post, May 15, 1963. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (007.04.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05854] © Herb Block Foundation

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Message to Congress

Finding inspiration in the 1776 Declaration of Independence, Herblock echoed President John F. Kennedy’s request that Congress pass the Civil Rights Act and make the words “all men are created equal” ring true for America’s African-American citizens. On June 20, 1963, Kennedy called for federal legislation on key points, including voting, desegregation in public schools and facilities, and better employment opportunities for African Americans.

Message to Congress, 1963. Published in the Washington Post, June 21, 1963. Graphite, ink brush and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (008.04.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05878] © Herb Block Foundation

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“In This Boat We’re All Integrated”

By illustrating the idiomatic expression “We’re all in the same boat,” Herblock supported President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 Civil Rights omnibus legislation, which included the Federal Fair Employment Practices Commission. Because one of the key issues for the 1963 March on Washington was job fairness, Kennedy pinned his hopes on Congress’s passing a labor bill prior to the August 28 event. Several leaders advocated for the bill, arguing that access to well-paying jobs for African Americans would improve the economy overall.

In This Boat We’re All Integrated,” 1963. Published in the Washington Post, August 7, 1963. Graphite, ink brush, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (009.04.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05908] © Herb Block Foundation

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Conceived in Liberty and Dedicated to the Proposition That All Men are Created Equal. . . .

Quoting Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Herblock depicted African Americans and whites standing together before the Lincoln Memorial in this cartoon published on the eve of the March on Washington in 1963. At the rally, standing before a crowd of 250,000 people, Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. Herblock supported the demands for economic equality and an end to segregation and discrimination. He also recognized how frustration had grown in the century since Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation because civil rights legislation had not passed.

Conceived in Liberty and Dedicated to the Proposition That All Men are Created Equal. . . , 1963. Published in the Washington Post, August 27, 1963. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (010.04.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05922] © Herb Block Foundation

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Herblock Looks at: 1965 | 1964 | 1963 | 1962 | 1961 | Communism