Theodore Roosevelt in Cartoon
"Vacation: His Annual Rest at Oyster Bay" Puck, July 11, 1906. Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Harvard College Library.
October 5, 2010 – In 1901, just over a decade after starting his career as a cartoonist at Puck, the nation's first publication devoted to political satire, Joseph Keppler Jr. was named the magazine's chief cartoonist. As it happened, that same year also marked the beginning of the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, who over the next decade would become one of Keppler's most popular targets for caricature.
A recently-opened exhibition, T.R. in Cartoon: the Art of Joseph Keppler, on display in the Theodore Roosevelt Gallery, offers visitors a chance to see reproductions of a number of Keppler's Roosevelt cartoons and of original drawings held in the College Library's Theodore Roosevelt Collection.
"Keppler's specialty, at least with Roosevelt, was to draw him as historical or literary characters," said Roosevelt Collection Curator Wallace Dailey. "As an example, one of the cartoons in the exhibition portrays Roosevelt as Hamlet, and he's contemplating how to cope with the tariff question."
After Roosevelt left office in 1909, Keppler continued to draw for Puck for another five years, until 1914. Two years later, magazine was sold to the William Randolph Hearst Company, and later ceased publication in 1918.
Founded by Keppler's father, Joseph Ferdinand Keppler in 1877, Puck found success in taking on such controversial political issues like Tammany Hall corruption and Ulysses S. Grant's attempt to win a third term as President. The first magazine to carry illustrated advertising and to adopt full-color lithography printing, a typical issue included a full-color political cartoon on the front cover and a non-political cartoon on the back cover. Every issue also included a double-page centerfold cartoon, usually on a current political issue.