Herblock Looks at: 1969 | 1968 | 1967 | 1966 | 1965 | 1964 | 1963 | 1962 | 1961 | Communism

Herblock Looks at 1969: Fifty Years Ago in Editorial Cartoons

Richard Milhous Nixon (1913–1994) became the thirty-seventh president of the United States in 1969. Herblock had been a persistent critic of Nixon since 1948, starting with the congressman's membership in the House Un-American Activities Committee. However, in 1969, the cartoonist chose to pay more attention to Nixon's overall administration, while only launching a few attacks on the president as a person. Herblock focused on such issues as international negotiations, nuclear weapons, pollution, poverty, student demonstrations, and Supreme Court appointments. Supporters of South Carolina justice Clement F. Haynsworth (1912–1989) decried Herblock's series of "Vend-a-Justice" cartoons, believing they played a role in the Senate rejection of Nixon's nominee.

Herblock once said, ". . . most cartoonists are on the side of the little guy," and in the series of cartoons he drew about the issue of poverty in America, the cartoonist made his position clear. Portraying those who wasted taxpayer money as gluttons, Herblock sympathized with the impoverished and promoted federal resources to alleviate their needs.

These ten cartoons—with new drawings introduced into the exhibition every six months—have been selected from the Library's extensive Herbert L. Block Collection in the Prints and Photographs Division.

Currently on exhibit: March 23, 2019–September 7, 2019

WAITING ROOM

As President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s (1908–1973) administration came to a close, Herblock created a waiting room in which unresolved issues anticipated the start of Richard Nixon’s administration on January 20, 1969. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev (1906–1982) looks at his watch, as does the African American man representing cities, while Chinese leader Mao Zedong (1893–1976) glares from a corner. Herblock conveyed, through his metaphor, that Nixon was not moving quickly enough to shape a government capable of handling the pressing matters, and outgoing president Lyndon Baines Johnson was no longer interested.

Waiting Room, 1969. Published in the Washington Post, January 14, 1969. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (001.16.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07194 A 1969 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“YOU SEE, THE MORE ARMS WE HAVE, THE MORE WE’LL BE ABLE TO DISARM”

Distrusting Richard M. Nixon’s stated intention to disarm, Herblock perched the president high on a ladder dropping a nuclear missile into the arms of a woman representing the world’s hopes for nuclear control. Barely able to contain the weapons, the woman has released her olive branch, a symbol for peace. Even as President Nixon proposed a new round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks/Treaty with the Soviet Union, his administration debated whether or not to test the new independently targetable, re-entry vehicle “MIRV” nuclear missile.

“You See, the More Arms We Have, the More We’ll Be Able to DISarm,” 1969. Published in the Washington Post, August 22, 1969. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (002.16.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07349 A 1969 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“THIS CALLS FOR A REAL CLEANUP JOB . . .”

Herblock disparaged the Union Oil Company’s response to oil seeping from its offshore wells near Santa Barbara, California, in January and February 1969. The cartoonist contrasts the plight of small children standing in an oil slick, while executives relax in the sun determined to rely on advertising to avoid the costs of physical clean-up. After nearly three million gallons of crude oil spilled into the sea, the resulting environmental protection movement led President Nixon to sign the National Environmental Policy Act in 1969.

“This Calls For a Real Cleanup Job—A Whole New Series of Ads to Improve Our Image,” 1969. Published in the Washington Post, February 9, 1969. India ink, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (003.16.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07213 A 1969 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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COLLEGE EXAM

Frustrated with student protests that seized and destroyed university property, Herblock posed a rhetorical question to adults paralyzed with indecision about how to punish activists. Using the conceit of a classroom chalkboard, Herblock asks, “What would you do if a little group seized a university building?” While the American Civil Liberties Union fought for the right to assemble, it too, decried student damage and a seeming unwillingness on the part of students to hear other points of view.

College Exam, 1969. Published in the Washington Post, April 16, 1969. India ink, graphite, and opaque white drawing over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (004.16.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07259 A 1969 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“ETHICS ARE FOR LIBERALS”

While it is unusual for a cartoonist to influence government decisions, supporters of South Carolina Justice Clement F. Haynsworth (1912–1989) decried Herblock’s series of “Vend-a-Justice” cartoons for persuading senators to vote against the nominee for the Supreme Court. Herblock equated the resignation of Associate Justice Abe Fortas (1910–1982) over ethical issues with concerns about Haynsworth’s ethics. Senators James Eastland (1904–1986) and Strom Thurmond (1902–2003), Attorney General John Mitchell (1913–1988), and President Richard M. Nixon rush Haynsworth up a ramp to the Supreme Court.

“Ethics Are for Liberals,” 1969. Published in the Washington Post, October 3, 1969. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (005.16.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07356 A 1969 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“WATCH THOSE BREAD CRUMBS — BREAD COSTS MONEY”

Responding to the testimony of Admiral Hyman Rickover that the Department of Defense contracts cost taxpayers an additional two billion dollars by using an outmoded system, Herblock characterized a contractor as a greedy diner throwing away food he did not intend to eat. In contrast, a bureaucrat points an angry finger at a lean child who drops a few crumbs from a slice of plain bread. The Nixon administration attacked Johnson’s War on Poverty programs, reducing benefits and eliminating some community-led efforts.

“Watch Those Bread Crumbs—Bread Costs Money,” 1969. Published in the Washington Post, February 2, 1969. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (006.16.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07207 A 1969 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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NIXON, TWO MEN AND BIG MONEY BAG

Using an impoverished person, crushed by the weight of a wealthy man’s money, Herblock advocated for the income tax overhaul U.S. Congress had proposed to President Richard Nixon. Feeling the Nixon administration’s negativity about benefits to the poor, Herblock argued the rich received far more than the impoverished. In 1969, Congress proposed to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while giving the working class a greater number of standard deductions. Despite his reservations on the bill presented to him, Nixon signed the Tax Reform Act of 1969 into law on December 30, 1969.

Nixon, Two Men and Big Money Bag, 1969. Published in the Washington Post, February 14, 1969. Graphite, ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (007.16.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07217 A 1969 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“SORRY—WE’RE FEEDING ALL THE MOUTHS WE CAN”

Siding with Democratic Party senators who called for an immediate increase in food-stamp aid, Herblock decried the Nixon administration’s budget, which greatly increased military spending while neglecting hunger in America. By placing Nixon between military expenditures and waste and the needs of a starving child, Herblock puts the blame on the president for not doing more to provide for the nation’s poor and on the military for wasting taxpayer money.

“Sorry —We’re Feeding All the Mouths We Can,” 1969. Published in the Washington Post, May 2, 1969. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (008.16.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07271 A 1969 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“I KEEP TELLING YOU, WE DON’T HAVE ANYTHING FOR YOU TO SEE”

When four members of the bipartisan United States Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs toured the South to investigate hunger and malnutrition among the nation’s poor, they found that state and local governments had refused to offer federal programs, including food stamps, to migrant workers on the grounds that they were not local constituents. Herblock used the metaphor of skeletons in the closet, showing a senator forcing his way past a Southern official to locate extreme poverty.

“I Keep Telling You, We Don’t Have Anything for You to See,” 1969. Published in the Washington Post, March 12, 1969. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white with overlay over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (009.16.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07235 A 1969 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“IT SAYS HERE THE ECONOMY NEEDS COOLING OFF”

With four impoverished figures huddling in the snow, Herblock expressed his opinion that the Nixon administration was cool toward the needs of major urban centers in the United States. As the federal government began providing state capitals block grants to combat poverty, some state legislators diverted funds or reduced their internal budgets for cities. Even the president’s own chief advisor on urban affairs, Daniel P. Moynihan, believed the administration needed to double its current spending to deal with the problems of poverty.

“It Says Here the Economy Needs Cooling Off,” 1969. Published in the Washington Post, December 11, 1969. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (010.16.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07406 A 1969 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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Herblock Looks at: 1969 | 1968 | 1967 | 1966 | 1965 | 1964 | 1963 | 1962 | 1961 | Communism