Oliphant's Anthem: Pat Oliphant at the Library of Congress

First Decades in America

Oliphant won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1966 with this cartoon showing Ho Chi Minh, president of North Vietnam, carrying a dead Viet Cong soldier. By 1966 there were 190,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam, and North Vietnam was receiving armaments and technical assistance from the Soviet Union and other Communist countries. Ho had sent a note on January 24 to Communist leaders denouncing U.S. peace initiatives. At the same time, South Vietnamese officials had refused to participate in any peace talks with the Viet Cong's National Liberation Front, the North Vietnam-supported Communist guerilla movement within South Vietnam. A few days after this cartoon appeared, President Lyndon Johnson, along with key military and political advisors, traveled to Honolulu for a conference with South Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, Chief of State Nguyen Van Thieu, and other Saigon government officials.

"They won't get us to the conference table . . . will they?", February 1, 1966. Ink over pencil with paste-ons on duoshade paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (1)

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President Richard Nixon announced a voluntary "share the [gas] shortage" plan on May 10, 1973, which required suppliers to provide independent gas stations with the same percentages of refinery output as were sold to them in the base period October 1, 1971– September 30, 1972. Independent gasoline stations, which had been threatened with a total cutoff in supplies, received immediate relief from the administration's plan. Travelers faced spot gas shortages during the Memorial Day weekend, which further highlighted the worsening energy crisis.

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Because of declining sales, General Motors Corporation announced on October 24, 1974, it was slashing production and laying off more than 6,000 workers. That round of layoffs brought the number of workers indefinitely suspended to 36,000.

‘First of all . . . Merry Christmas!’ October 27, 1974. Ink over pencil with paste-on on duoshade paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (5)

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A Gallup Poll surveying the Democrats in the 1980 presidential campaign was released on December 11, 1979. It showed President Jimmy Carter ahead of Senator Edward Kennedy for the first time in two years, an upturn that represented the largest jump in presidential approval ratings in four decades. Senator Kennedy (D-Mass.) was campaigning hard, crisscrossing the country and drawing enthusiastic crowds, but he was criticized for opposing a Democratic president when he appeared to have no issue-based reason for doing so. The poll results put additional pressure on the other presidential candidates, former Texas Governor John J. Connolly, former California Governors Edmund G. "Jerry Brown" and Ronald W. Reagan, and former President Gerald R. Ford. Streaking, the act of running naked in a public place, was a national fad at the time.

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As the Ayatolloh Khomeini and other Iranian leaders persisted in their refusal to release the American hostages held in the U.S. Embassy in Teheran, President Jimmy Carter warned on April 17, 1980, that the U.S. would impose more sanctions against Iran for failing to release the hostages. These sanctions included banning financial transfers to subjects of Iran, imports from Iran, exports of military equipment purchased by Iran, travel to Iran by Americans, as well as freezing Iranian assets in the United States. Carter appealed to U.S. allies to join in its isolation policy against Iran, but most countries were reluctant to do so because of their heavy reliance on Iranian oil.

‘Whatever you say, Imam! I guess you know what you're doing . . . . ’, April 24, 1980. Ink and white out over pencil on duoshade paper, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (8)

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Clashes between police and mixed-race (called "colored" in South Africa) demonstrators in the depressed outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, on June 16–18, 1980, led to 30 deaths and 174 injuries. Police had banned crowds from observing the fourth anniversary of the 1976 Soweto race riots, but demonstrators turned instead to a commemorative work boycott. A police official acknowledged that they had "shoot to kill" orders for arsonists, looters, and other "violent hooligan elements." The intense rioting of coloreds surprised many South African whites who had thought of them as allies against the blacks.

‘Everything is under control—go back to your designated shanties and slums!’, June 20, 1980. Ink and brush over pencil on duoshade paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (9)

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Salvadoran President José Napoleon Duarte spent ten days in September 1981 touring the United States, during which he visited with President Ronald Reagan and other officials in Washington and addressed the United Nations. He worked to build U.S. support for his government as well as to obtain economic and military assistance against leftist guerilla forces in El Salvador. In response to a question by Vice President George Bush about reported acts of violence against Salvadoran citizens, Duarte said that his government had dismissed 600 National Guardsmen and imprisoned another 64 for crimes against civilians. Congressional leaders remained skeptical about Duarte's claims to have curtailed human rights abuses.

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The presence of massed Soviet forces on the Polish border caused NATO officials to warn the Soviet Union on December 12, 1980, that the use of military force in Poland would destroy East-West détente. U.S. Secretary of State Edmund S. Muskie reported after a NATO meeting in Brussels that the Allies had agreed to resort to economic sanctions in retaliation for any military action, a sharp contrast to the lack of unity displayed after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Carter Administration officials criticized France, Great Britain, and West Germany, worried that the failure of many European allies to live up to their spending pledges would cause anti-NATO sentiments in the U.S.

‘Hold steady, men—our show of unity seems to have them bamboozled.’, December 17, 1980. Ink, brush, and white out over pencil on duoshade paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (10)

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President Ronald Reagan nominated Arizona judge Sandra Day O'Connor as the first woman Supreme Court justice on July 7, 1981. Although she was described as "moderate" and "conservative," those familiar with her political and judicial records said that she was not a hardline conservative. Women's rights advocates were elated by the announcement; anti-abortion organizations were angered. The Moral Majority, a national conservative coalition organization, decried her nomination as a "disaster for men and women" and one that would "further undermine the traditional family."

‘Sandra O'Connor, how plead you to the heinous charge of secular womanism?’, September 10, 1981. Ink over pencil on duoshade paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (12)

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The United Auto Workers (UAW) and Ford Motor Company tentatively agreed on February 13, 1982, to a new labor contract that included concessions on wages and benefits in return for job security. Rank-and-file members approved the contract on February 17. The persistent slump in Ford car sales, more than $1 billion in losses, and the reality of 55,000 workers on indefinite layoff had led to the accommodation. The rising sun toward which management and labor are limping together refers to increased competition from Japanese automakers.

Alliance for some sort of progress, February 26, 1982. Ink and white out over pencil on layered paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (13)

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified 418 hazardous waste dumps on December 20, 1982, as priorities for the five-year "Superfund" nationwide cleanup enacted by Congress in 1980. EPA Administrator Anne M. Gorsuch also announced that the agency might not seek continuation of the federal cleanup following expiration of the current legislation in 1985. She had earlier been cited for contempt for refusing to submit subpoenaed information concerning enforcement of the Superfund law. The Supreme Court, at the request of the Reagan administration, declared the contempt citation unconstitutional. Representative James J. Florio of New Jersey, one of the authors of the Superfund law, denounced the EPA's actions toward cleanup as abysmal.

Watchdog, December 21, 1982. Ink over pencil on layered paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (14)

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