Detail from Herblock's Light! More Light!

Herb Block published his first editorial cartoon six months before the 1929 New York Stock Exchange crash that plunged the country into the Great Depression. His concern for the national physical environment broadened into concern for the economic and international environment. He also warned throughout the decade of the danger represented by Fascist political gains in Europe and Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany at the head of the Nazi Party.

"This is the forest, primeval--"

Concern for the depletion of our natural resources is not new. In his first daily cartoon, Herb Block deplored the clear-cutting of America's virgin forests and foreshadowed the economic wasteland to come in the next decade. The caption is the first line of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Evangeline.

This is the forest, primeval--, April 24, 1929. Reproduction of original drawing. Published in the Chicago Daily News (1)

The philanthropist

The Great Depression devastated the United States in the 1930s, leaving as much as 25 percent of the workforce unemployed. People who lost their jobs began selling five-cent apples on the streets of American cities, providing a symbol of the economic hardships of the era.

The philanthropist, December 5, 1930. Ink and blue pencil over blue pencil underdrawing with mechanical tone shading on layered paper Published in the Chicago Daily News (2) LC-USZ62-127206

Isn't this what we really want?

In the 1930s, the United States renounced some of the traditional rights of neutrality in an effort to keep out of the looming European wars. The Neutrality Act of 1935 embargoed shipment of arms to aggressors or victims. By 1939, despite various modifications to the original act, these self-imposed restrictions were increasingly at odds with other national interests.

Isn't this what we really want? 1939. Ink, crayon, and opaque white over blue pencil underdrawing on layered paper. Published by NEA Service, Inc. (4) LC-USZ62-127208

Little Goldilocks Riding Hood

The Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, signed August 24, 1939, opened the way for Germany and the Soviet Union to invade and partition Poland. Germany's ffinvasion of Poland on September 1 precipitated World War II.

Little Goldilocks Riding Hood, 1939. Ink, crayon, and opaque white over blue pencil underdrawing on layered paper. Published by NEA Service, Inc. (5) LC-USZ62-127201

"Light! More light!" - Goethe's last words

In his drive to make Germany into a Fascist Aryan empire, Adolf Hitler took control of all aspects of religion, art, literature, and cultural life. Nineteenth-century poet, novelist, playwright, scientist and thinker Johann Wolfgang von Goethe embodied for many the best of German thought and culture.

"Light! More light!" - Goethe's last words, 1933. Ink, crayon, and opaque white over blue pencil underdrawing on layered paper. Published by NEA Service, Inc. (6) LC-USZ62-127330

"No Foreign entanglements"

In the 1930s, the United States Senate took an isolationist position against any kind of U.S. involvement in international engagements, ranging from refusal to join the World Court to the passage of the various Neutrality Acts. The provisional neutrality act passed the Senate in 1935.

"No Foreign entanglements," 1935. Ink, crayon, and opaque white over blue pencil underdrawing on laid paper. Published by NEA Service, Inc. (7) LC-USZ62-127328

Losses

After Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939, the United States began to supply England and other allies with as much material as possible. Yet it continued to sell oil and scrap iron to Japan, despite that country's aggressions in China and elsewhere in the Far East. American shipments destined to help the Allies were lost to German submarine warfare, but material destined for Japan arrives safely.

Losses, 1939. Ink, crayon, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing on layered paper. Published by NEA Service, Inc. (9) LC-USZ62-127198

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