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 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.
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
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.