Decoration Day, 05/30/1911
Did you know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day? Shortly after the Civil War, a group of Union veterans called for a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers on May 30. The date was perhaps selected because flowers were in bloom all across the U.S. by late May.
In 1888, Congress declared Decoration Day a federal holiday in the District of Columbia so that veterans in federal employ could honor their fallen comrades and not lose a day’s pay. Decoration Day gradually became known as Memorial Day as the holiday expanded to commemorate veterans of all wars.
In 1968, Congress passed a law that named and moved several federal holidays. Included in H.R. 15951 was the official declaration of Memorial Day as a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday of May.
Washington suffered through many typhoid outbreaks between 1905 and 1909. Sanitation and water systems were frequently overwhelmed. As the “DC inspector” in the cartoon prepares to cite one unlucky citizen for his trash, he assures them that the decrepit municipally-owned property in the background is “immune.”
Untitled, 05/29/1907. From the Clifford Berryman Political Cartoon Collection
William Randolph Hearst—newspaper magnate and congressman—born 150 years ago today. Cartoonist Clifford Berryman depicts the multimillionaire as trying to pass himself as a man of the people during a possible presidential run.
Newspaper publisher and multi-millionaire William Randolph Hearst was viewed as a strong candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 1908. This illustration entitled, “Hearst’s New Make-up”, by cartoonist Clifford Berryman, appeared in the Washington Evening Star on June 5, 1907 and shows Hearst attempting to convince the common man that he is their friend. Hearst was born on April 29, 1863.
Hearst’s New Make-up by Clifford Berryman, 6/5/1907, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 6010707)
Congress in the Archives will feature monthly staff posts on our blog. Today’s post comes from Adam Berenbak.
Today is Opening Day in DC and all eyes are on the Nationals, especially their new mascot based on William Howard Taft. Taft is being celebrated as an addition to the ‘Presidents Run’ not only because he was an accomplished statesman and President, but because he is recognized as the first president to ever throw out a ‘first pitch’ on Opening Day, April 11, 1910.
Though the game is mostly remembered for Taft’s first pitch, Walter Johnson was the star, pitching within one hit of a no-hitter for Washington. Frank ‘Home Run’ Baker (who earned his nickname the following year with two dramatic home runs in the World Series) was the one batter to luck into a hit off of Johnson that day. In the fourth inning, Baker came to bat and lined a foul ball towards the President’s box. Though the ball missed Taft, it careened into the adjacent box, narrowly missing Vice President James Sherman before hitting Secretary of the Senate Charles Bennett in the head. Luckily for all involved, the ball “had spent its force when it landed in the box,” leaving everyone uninjured. Later reports and references to the incident, though, incorrectly refer to Bennett as the Secretary of State (and report that he was knocked out!).
As Secretary of the Senate, the chief legislative officer in the Senate, Bennett helped to usher the Senate into the modern era. In doing so, he was one of the first to collect and publish the various procedures of the Senate into a concise guide for Senators. He also enjoyed frequent outings to Boundary Field, and then National Park (later Griffith Stadium), to watch baseball.
Though no mascot of Bennett will be around during this year’s opening day game, their story reminds us all to watch out for the foul ball!
Will the Base Runner Start for Third? by Clifford Berryman, 8/17/1906, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 6010644)
(of course that’s Teddy debating whether to break for third, but it looks like Taft is visible as one of the potential hopefuls in the stands.)
Cartoonist Clifford Berryman’s familiar character, Miss Democracy, voices the hopes of many people that former President Theodore Roosevelt might run again in 1916. Senator William Edwin Chilton of West Virginia had stated to the press his belief that Roosevelt would run for President in 1916. Miss Democracy comments “Oh, I do hope Chilton knows what he’s talking about.” Roosevelt’s 1912 run split the Republican Party, thus making it an easy victory for the Democrats. (Ultimately this would not be the case, disappointing one Bull Moose in particular).
Even though the first day of spring was last week, many of us are still feeling the effects of Old Man Winter! Clifford Berryman penned this cartoon for The Washington Evening Star as Washington, DC shivered through a cold spell during the end of March 1915.
Untitled by Clifford Berryman, 3/27/1915, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 6011103)
The Beer-Wine Revenue Act - March 22, 1933
80 years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Beer–Wine Revenue Act into law on March 22, 1933. This law amended the Volstead Act and permitted the sale of beer and wine with an alcohol content of less than 3.2% by volume. The act represented the first relaxation of the prohibition laws since 1918 and was followed up at the end of the year with the passage of the 21st Amendment repealing prohibition. Repeal of prohibition laws was a key plank in the Democratic platform during the 1932 Presidential election as reflected in Clifford Berryman’s cartoon.
Here’s to the first day of spring!
This untitled illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman, which appeared in the Washington Evening Star on March 12, 1908, shows Miss Spring hesitating at the gate before making her entrance.
Untitled by Clifford Berryman, 3/12/1908, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 6010748)
March Seventeenth, 03/17/1918
On Saint Patrick’s Day Clifford Berryman shows a determined Uncle Sam rolling up his sleeves and preparing to use a large club to deal with the many German propagandist snakes slithering in the grass around him. Teddy bear is by his side wielding a smaller stick. Throughout World War I the U.S. Government was forced to divert substantial resources to counter skilled German propaganda aimed at weakening the resolve of the American people to continue the war effort. Berryman uses the Saint Patrick’s day theme of driving the snakes out of Ireland as a model for driving out the German propagandists.
Tracks to the Union Station, 03/14/1908
Washington DC’s Union Station opened in 1907 and was officially complete in 1908. However it would not be connected to the local streetcar system until later that year. Until then, the only “tracks” were those made by harried travelers through the mud and snow.
Cartoonist Clifford Berryman’s proposal for improved government efficiency:
This untitled illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman, which appeared in the Washington Evening Star on March 9, 1916, is a response to the proposal made by Representative William Patterson Borland of Missouri that an extra hour be added to the government work day. Here, Uncle Sam watches as government workers rush by below on their way to work wearing roller skates to ensure their early arrival and wondering why he had not thought of it.
(Thankfully never implemented. We can only imagine disaster would ensure in the Archives’ conservation labs…)
Let Congress Take Warning, 03/06/1909
The Inauguration Day of William Howard Taft was one of the worst Inauguration days ever due to rain, snow, sleet, slush, and chilling winds. In the cartoon, telegraph lines are shown falling over because of the strong winds and snow. Uncle Sam is bundled in winter gear while holding a resolution to change the date of Inauguration Day and telling Congress that they shouldn’t let the same thing happen again. Because of the bad weather, there was much support in changing Inauguration Day to April 30, which is when George Washington was inaugurated. The resolution was not successful until 1933 though, when Inauguration Day was changed to January 20.
A Twenty-Second-of-February Dream; Things that the Father of His Country would discover in 1903, 02/22/1903