October 10, 2015

Dr. Seuss’ WWII Political Cartoons

Posted on December 6, 2010 by in Photo

Most of you know Dr. Seuss as an author who wrote children’s books, but he did so much more in his career that may surprise you. Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, wrote over 60 books, selling over 200 million copies. Seuss graduated from Dartmouth and went to Oxford afterward, although, he left Oxford early without obtaining his intended Doctor of Philosophy, because he fell in love with a girl he met there and married her!

After college, Seuss worked as a humorous writer for popular magazines, and as an ad illustrator for some of America’s largest corporations to support himself and his wife. He also won his first Academy Award for an animated short in 1930.

Seuss was a self-described Democrat, and during the first several years of WWII, he worked with a far left publication in New York City named PM, where he began drawing cartoons in favor of the war against Hitler and Japan. Ideologically, on this issue, Seuss broke with his “America First!”, leftist counterparts, who wanted America to ignore Hitler, and become isolationist regarding the global threat that the Nazis presented (similar to America’s modern left and their response to Islamo-fascism).

During this time, Seuss also created posters for the American Treasury Department and the War Production Board. He joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and worked as the Commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. While with the military, Seuss would write Design for Death, a film for which he would win his 2nd Academy Award in 1947.

In his war cartoons, Seuss remained resolute in his position on the war, while lampooning the slow-to-act American political bureaucracy, organizations/politicians that were opposed to the war, and America’s enemies. On the home front, Seuss was especially critical of Charles Lindbergh (Lindbergh’s father was a progressive U.S. Congressman), the famous pilot, who was one of the more influential figures associated with the “America First!”, do-nothing, movement.

The following collection of nearly 400 political cartoons was drawn by Seuss between January 1941 and January 1943. From these cartoons, his position on the war was clear. Here was a Democrat who broke from his contemporaries to do the right thing instead of the safe, expected, or convenient thing – if only modern Democrats were so inclined with respect to the tyrants of today.

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