President Lyndon Baines Johnson believed in the “domino theory,” the idea that when one country becomes communist then surrounding countries will also fall under communist influence. After he was elected president of the United States, Johnson sent the first American combat troops to Vietnam in February 1965. Although his domestic policies received high approval ratings from the American public, his popularity declined because of his administration’s hawkish approach to the Vietnam Crisis. Some cartoonists disparaged President Johnson’s decision to escalate the war, while others portrayed him as an ineffectual international leader. In 1968, in failing health and dealing with a Democratic Party divided over Vietnam, Johnson refused to run for reelection.
HERBLOCK, Washington Post
Satirizing President Johnson, who had said he was “eager to go more than halfway” in peace negotiations with North Vietnam, Herblock attacked the president for massive bombing throughout the country. Because Johnson had bombed North Vietnam in retribution for engaging in guerilla warfare in Laos, his overtures for peace were rejected. As Herblock indicates, the war escalated.
Herblock (1909–2001). “We’ve Shown That We’re Willing to Go More Than Half Way,” 1967. Published in the Washington Post, March 12, 1967. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white drawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (016.00.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-06756 © Herb Block Foundation
Bookmark this item: //www.loc.gov/exhibits/pointing-their-pens-editorial-cartoons/vietnam-war.html#obj016
HERBLOCK, Washington Post
At the beginning of 1968, President Johnson appeared poised to run for an easy reelection. Although he had championed his Great Society domestic programs in his State of the Union speech a week earlier, Herblock felt that these measures had fallen victim to the escalating costs of the Vietnam War. Using Archibald Willard’s famous painting The Spirit of ’76 as a visual metaphor, Herblock castigated a presidential administration that failed to meet its own ambitious goals.
Bookmark this item: //www.loc.gov/exhibits/pointing-their-pens-editorial-cartoons/vietnam-war.html#obj017
EDMUND VALTMAN, Hartford Times
Prior to the 1964 presidential election, President Johnson held back from escalating the war in Vietnam, knowing that it might affect the outcome of his ambitious domestic agenda. Edmund Valtman reacted to the news by depicting Johnson’s nuclear arsenal undone by conventional weapons and guerrilla warfare. Valtman despised communism, having experienced Soviet rule in his native Estonia. He worked for the Hartford Times from 1951 until his retirement in 1975.
Bookmark this item: //www.loc.gov/exhibits/pointing-their-pens-editorial-cartoons/vietnam-war.html#obj018
DAN DOWLING, New York Herald Tribune
Although Vietnam was an election issue in 1964, Dan Dowling overestimated its ability to undermine the Democratic Party and President Johnson. Johnson parlayed his landslide victory into a power base that permitted him to push Congress hard into passing his Great Society legislation. He also escalated the Vietnam War after his inauguration in 1965. It proved his undoing, and in 1968, he chose not to run for reelection. A Midwestern cartoonist by training, Dan Dowling worked for the New York Herald Tribune from 1949 to 1967.
Dan Dowling (1909–1993). Reviewing the Situation in Vietnam, 1964. Published by the New York Herald Tribune, 1964. India ink, tonal film overlay, graphite, and opaque white drawing. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (019.00.00)
LC-DIG-ppmsca-38559 © Estate of Dan Dowling
Bookmark this item: //www.loc.gov/exhibits/pointing-their-pens-editorial-cartoons/vietnam-war.html#obj019
GIB CROCKETT, Washington Star
In 1967, as Americans divided over the Vietnam War, Washington Star cartoonist Gib Crockett depicted President Johnson as a slick medicine salesman, trying to sell peace to the American people, while heavily armed South Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Cao Ky interrupted his pitch. Johnson met Ky on the Pacific island of Guam to push for elections, which Ky held in 1967. During his forty-two-year career, Crockett worked as the chief editorial cartoonist at the Washington Star from 1965 to 1975.
Bookmark this item: //www.loc.gov/exhibits/pointing-their-pens-editorial-cartoons/vietnam-war.html#obj020
HERBLOCK, Washington Post
Attempting to halt the flow of supplies from China into Vietnam, the United States bombed in the far north near the border between the two countries. Because President Johnson had lifted restrictions on pilots flying near the Chinese border, Herblock used the precipice, plunging into an unseen chasm, as a metaphor—suggesting that Johnson unwittingly headed into a direction that would engulf the United States in a bigger war.
Herblock (1909–2001). “What Escalation? We’re Just Moving Sideways,” 1967. Published in the Washington Post, August 15, 1967. India ink, graphite, and opaque white drawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (016.01.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-06866 © Herb Block Foundation
Bookmark this item: //www.loc.gov/exhibits/pointing-their-pens-editorial-cartoons/vietnam-war.html#obj016_01
HERBLOCK, Washington Post
While China was not perceived as a direct military threat to the United States in 1967, America’s involvement in Asia increased opportunities for confrontation. As the Vietnam War escalated, containing China became a justification for increasing troops and supplies to South Vietnam. Herblock suggested that the policies of President Johnson and Secretary of State Dean Rusk inadvertently caused an even bigger conflict.
Herblock (1909–2001), “Dean, I Think You’ve Let the Dragon Out of the Bag,” 1967. Published in the Washington Post, October 19, 1967. India ink, graphite, and opaque white drawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (017.01.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-06912 © Herb Block Foundation
Bookmark this item: //www.loc.gov/exhibits/pointing-their-pens-editorial-cartoons/vietnam-war.html#obj017_01
EUGENE PAYNE, Charlotte Observer
Imagining Vietnam as a trap for President Johnson, Eugene Payne posed Johnson in formal dress, imploring Pacific allies for assistance. On October 24, 1966, the Manila Peace Conference opened, and Johnson pledged peace, conditional upon the withdrawal of North Vietnamese forces from South Vietnam. Payne served as one of the editorial cartoonists of the Charlotte Observer in his native city for the better part of the years between 1958 and 2009
Eugene Payne (1919–2010). “I Suppose You Are All Wondering Why I Called This Meeting,” 1966. Published in the Charlotte Observer, ca. October 24, 1966. Ink brush, crayon, and opaque white over blue pencil drawing. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (018.01.00)
Bookmark this item: //www.loc.gov/exhibits/pointing-their-pens-editorial-cartoons/vietnam-war.html#obj018_01
CY HUNGERFORD, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
During the Johnson Administration (1963–1969), there were several opportunities for peace in Vietnam. The title of Cy Hungerford’s cartoon is ironic, as President Johnson sinks into quicksand, grinning at the potential for peace. Hungerford was practically a Pittsburgh institution, working there for sixty-five years, including fifty years at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Cy Hungerford (1889–1983). Will LBJ’s Luck Hold Out?, between 1965 and 1968. Published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, between 1965 and 1968. India ink and opaque white drawing. Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (019.01.00)
LC-DIG-ppmsca-38560 Copyright © Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2015, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
Bookmark this item: //www.loc.gov/exhibits/pointing-their-pens-editorial-cartoons/vietnam-war.html#obj019_01
JOSEPH PARRISH, Chicago Tribune
Secretary of State Dean Rusk, President Johnson, and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara reel back from a bomb that has landed in the mid-term elections of 1966. As the Vietnam War became increasingly unpopular, Democrats facing elections called for cease-fires or threatened to splinter the party over American involvement in the war. While the Republican Party made gains, Democrats continued to control the House and the Senate after the November election. Joseph Parrish drew editorial cartoons for the Chicago Tribune for forty-six years of his fifty-year career.
Bookmark this item: //www.loc.gov/exhibits/pointing-their-pens-editorial-cartoons/vietnam-war.html#obj020_01