Chicago has always been known to outsiders as the second city. In comparison to New York City, Chicago always fell second in every
aspect of modern living and culture. Incorporated a city in 1837, Chicago was the fastest growing city in the history of the world until a few years ago. After a fire in 1871, the city reemerged with steel buildings and the modern skyline was born. Chicago, after all, was an innovator in a great many things because of its location far from the eastern shores. By the 1970s, Chicago also saw a new innovative theater troupe emerge out of a church basement. Taking its name from the Herman Hesse novel, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company would reshape theater in Chicago and across the country.
What made Steppenwolf Theatre different at the time of its inception was its emphasis on ensemble acting. For many years on Broadway, the stars and directors drove the business. Big names meant big business. Even in regional theater, an actor could be lured to act in the middle of nowhere if enough money was involved. Chicago, on the other hand, was not in the middle of nowhere. However, Steppenwolf’s roots would be. Highland Park is located on the shore of Lake Michigan, north of Evanston. But it would not be Evanston and Northwestern’s long history of actors where Steppenwolf would draw its actors. Instead, Illinois State University (ISU) in Bloomington-Normal was the foundation.
Beginning in 1974, Rick Argosh and Leslie Wilson went to Gary Sinise, a high school classmate, about staging Paul Zindel’s And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little. Over the course of the next year, the troupe put on three plays in a basement of church in Deerfield, Illinois: Grease, The Glass Menagerie, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Argosh, who had been reading Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf, christened the name of the ensemble. Sinise brought in former classmates Jeff Perry and Terry Kinney, then students at ISU. Kinney, Perry, and Sinise enjoyed their group so much that they decided when Perry and Kinney finished college, the three would pursue the ensemble group full-time.
In February 1975, the three founded Steppenwolf as a non-profit organization. The group began its season in Immaculate Conception Church and School in Highland Park, Illinois. The 88 seat facility saw the ensemble grow from the three founders to include H.E. Baccus, Nancy Evans, Moira Harris, John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf and Alan Wilder. Kevin Rigdon was hired as the set designer. 1976 saw the company put on six plays.
Early reviews were mixed. The company often put on two plays in one night. Some were good, and some were bad, often on the same twin bill. John Malkovich’s acting caught the early praise of local papers then the Chicago Tribune in 1976. In 1977, the company kept expanding its ensemble to include Joan Allen. The company tended to stage 6 productions a year and the ensemble slowly grew to include names like Glenne Headly, Rondi Reed, Amy Morton, and John Mahoney.
In 1980, the company moved to 134-seat theater at the Jane Addams Hull House Center on North Broadway in Chicago. The move brought with it more spotlights, a bigger audience, more press, and more plays. With Gary Sinise named artistic director, the ensemble produced True West in 1982. The production would wind up in New York and Malkovich would wind up a star who drew attention to himself and the ensemble.
Throughout the 1980s, word of mouth spread about the intensity of the acting, the stark set design, and the unique nature of the plays. In 1982, the company moved to a theater on North Halstead, creeping closer and closer to downtown. In 1985, the company won a Tony Award for Regional Theatre Excellence. In 1988, the company broke open the doors and made itself a nationally recognized company for its production of Grapes of Wrath. Reinterpreting Steinbeck made a national name out of Sinise and brought name recognition for the entire ensemble.
In 1991, the company built its current theater, also on North Halstead. Sinise and Malkovich began to do movies and became stars in their own right on the big screen but they never left the ensemble. Joan Allen, Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne), and John Mahoney (Frasier) saw steady work as well in the movies and on TV. In 1998, President Clinton awarded the company the 1998 National Medal of Arts.
Here founding member Jeff Perry and Ensemble Members Laurie Metcalf, Amy Morton and Rondi Reed talk about the early years. It is a very interesting and funny interview and gives a lot of details of what it took to get the company off the ground.
Here is the team photo of the 1920 Decatur Staley football team. At the end of the season, they would move to Chicago and become the Chicago Bears. Notice who is sitting in the center of the front row….George S. Halas.
I feel relieved when I think of how easy Americans have it in today’s modern world. We have easy access to food,
entertainment, transportation, and communication. It was not always so. In 1863, General Ulysses S. Grant put a stranglehold on the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. The siege was something not seen since the Middle Ages. Grant’s strangulation of the town was part of a grander plan to cut the Confederacy in half. Vicksburg was the last major Confederate city along the Mississippi River. The capitulation of the city was never in doubt. Just how long the city could hold out was. For 47 days, the citizens held out longer than anyone thought they could.
When most people think of sieges, they tend to think of catapults, barrels of tar, ladders, moats, and battering rams. A specialty of Roman and Medieval warfare, the siege had lost its usefulness in the Napoleonic era. Armies, before the Civil War, met in large numbers of over 100,000 out in the fields of Europe. But the United States was not Europe. If anything, the Confederacy was geographically the opposite of Europe. In climate, it was hot and humid in the summer. In terrain, it was heavily forested and mountainous in the Eastern Theater. Warfare was changing and the technology along with it created for massive casualties in the Civil War. For Union General Ulysses S. Grant, the siege was more an act of desperation to take Vicksburg.
Throughout 1962, Grant had victory after victory with the Army of the Tennessee in Tennessee and northeastern Mississippi. However, those victories came with questions and concerns about the high loss of life. Grant had been given the moniker, “Grant the Butcher.” Allusions were made to his drinking habits, his manhood questioned, but not by President Lincoln. Lincoln proclaimed, “I cannot spare this man, he fights.” More importantly, Grant won in 1862 – something that was not happening in the eastern theater of war.
For Grant, this was not his first siege. At Corinth in northeastern Mississippi, Grant had his army taken away from him for a while by Henry Halleck. Halleck employed the siege strategy in part because the previous battle at Shiloh had been so bloody. In addition, Corinth was not a large town. In little over a month in April and May of 1862, the Union forced the town to surrender and the Union had taken one of the few railroad junctions in the South. After the victory, Halleck went back east, Grant was given back the Army of the Tennessee, but only with 46,000 men.
Now for Grant, his sole objective was to take Vicksburg. The problem was everybody in the south knew Grant was going to go there. As a result, getting there was easier said than done.
Grant said this of the city on the bluff:
The Mississippi flows through a low alluvial bottom many miles in width; and is very tortuous in its course, running to all points of the compass, sometimes within a few miles. This valley is bounded on the east side by a range of high land rising in some places more than two hundred feet above the bottom. At points the river runs up to the bluffs, washing their base. Vicksburg is built on the first high land on the eastern bank below Memphis, and four hundred miles from that place by the windings of the river.
The winter of 1862-63 was unprecedented for continuous high water in the Mississippi, and months were spent in ineffectual efforts to reach high land above Vicksburg from which we could operate against that stronghold, and in making artificial waterways through which a fleet might pass, avoiding the batteries to the south of the town, in case the other efforts should fail.
[…] The ground about Vicksburg is admirable for defense. On the north it is about two hundred feet above the Mississippi River at the highest point, and very much cut up by the washing rains the ravines were grown up I with cane and underbrush, while the sides and tops were covered with a dense forest. Farther south the ground flattens out somewhat, and was in cultivation. But here, too, it was cut by ravines and small streams. The enemy’s line of defense followed the crest of a ridge, from the river north of the city, eastward, then southerly around to the Jackson road, full three miles back of the city ; thence in a south-westerly direction to the river. Deep ravines of the description given lay in front of these defenses.
Even President Lincoln felt it was the most important city at the time:
“See what a lot of land these fellows hold, of which Vicksburg is the key. The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket. We can take all the northern ports of the Confederacy, and they can defy us from Vicksburg. It means hog and hominy without limit, fresh troops from all the states of the far South, and a cotton country where they can raise the staple without interference. I am acquainted with that region and know what I am talking about, and, as valuable as New Orleans will be to us, Vicksburg will be more so.”
Beginning in December of 1862, Grant tried to take the city several times. The problem was that the city was too well defended from its high bluffs. But that spring, heavy rains made it possible for Grant, teamed with General William Tecumseh Sherman, to use the flooded river in April to boat past the city and land south of the town and surround it that way. Grant and 12 vessels made the run with Grant crossing into Mississippi at Bruinsburg nine miles south of Vicksburg. Grant said,
I was now in the enemy’s country, with a vast river and the stronghold of Vicksburg between me and my base of supplies. I had with me the Thirteenth Corps, General McClernand commanding, and two brigades of Logan’s
division of the Seventeenth Corps, General McPherson commanding; in all not more than twenty thousand men to commence the campaign with. These were soon [reinforced] by the remaining brigade of Logan’s division and by Crocker’s division of the Seventeenth Corps. On the 7th of May I was further [reinforced] by Sherman with two divisions of his, the Fifteenth Corps.
My total force was then about thirty-three thousand men. The enemy occupied Grand Gulf, Vicksburg, Haynes’s Bluff, and Jackson, with a force of nearly sixty thousand men. My first problem was to capture Grand Gulf to use as a base, and then if possible beat the enemy in detail outside the fortifications of Vicksburg. Jackson is fifty miles east of Vicksburg, and was connected with it by a railroad. Haynes’s Bluff is eleven miles north, and on the Yazoo River, which empties into the Mississippi some miles above the town.
Once on land, Grant had to fight his way to the town during April. Instead of marching north, Grant headed east and took Port Gibson, then Jackson, and worked his way back to Vicksburg along the Southern Railroad. Skirmishes at Champion Hill and Big Black River Bridge did not deter Grant. Grant arrived east of Vicksburg on May 18. The siege had begun. For the next 47 days, life would become a living hell inside the city.
In addition to the constant shelling from Grant’s forces on land, gunboats on the river also provided Union support. The citizens turned to making caves in the soft ground. Vicksburg resident Mary Loughborough stated:
“Our policy in building had been to face directly away from the river. All caves were prepared, as near as possible, in this manner. As the fragments of shells continued with the same impetus after the explosion, in but one direction, onward, they were not likely to reach us, fronting in this manner with their course. On one occasion, I was reading in safety, I imagined, when the unmistakable whirring of Parrott shells told us that the battery we so much feared had opened from the entrenchments. I ran to the entrance to call the servants in; and immediately after they entered, a shell struck the earth a few feet from the entrance, burying itself without exploding. I ran to the little dressing room, and could hear them striking around us on all sides. One fell near the cave entrance, and a servant boy grabbed it and threw it outside; it never exploded.”
In addition to the constant shelling, the weather did not help. Mississippi in early to July is extremely warm and humid. But the unbearable aspect for most involved in the siege was the fact that the spring rains and flooding created a plethora of mosquitoes.
After about 2 weeks, the city began to run out of supplies. The residents turned tree bark into soup. Rats became a delicacy. Confederate soldiers only received “four ounces each of bacon, flour, or meal, the rest comprising peas, rice, and sugar. It was less than half the rations normally issued and led, some believed, to sharply increased sickness among the debilitated troops.” By June 12, there was no meat left. Yet, the troops held on for three more weeks.
The citizens also survived on cowpeas (black eyed peas) that were turned into everything from bread to a meat like substance. Mule even became a staple for the soldiers and citizens. The old Napoleonic adage that an army marches on stomach could be easily adapted to Vicksburg. Confederate General Pemberton began to lose soldiers who deserted for food. On june 28, he received the following letter:
“Our rations have been cut down to one biscuit and a small bit of bacon per day, not enough scarcely to keep soul and body together, much less to stand the hardships we are called upon to stand. If you can’t feed us, you had better surrender us, horrible as the idea is . . . This army is now ripe to mutiny unless it can be fed.”
On July 4, 1863, Pemberton surrendered to Grant. Over 29,000 Confederate soldiers surrendered and they were made to sign loyalty oaths.
All Confederate weapons were seized including guns and artillery. Strikingly surprising was the condition of the Confederate weaponry. Grant said of the seizure of Weapons:
At Vicksburg 31,600 prisoners were surrendered, together with 172 cannon, about 60,000 muskets, and a large amount of ammunition. The small-arms of the enemy were far superior to the bulk of ours. Up to this time our troops at the west had been limited to the old United States flint-lock muskets changed into percussion, or the Belgian musket imported early in the war almost as dangerous to the per son firing it as to the one aimed at – and a few new and improved arms. These were of many different calibers a fact, that caused much trouble in distributing ammunition during an engagement.
The enemy had generally new arms, which had run the blockade and were of uniform caliber. After the surrender I authorized all colonels, whose regiments were armed with inferior muskets, to place them in the stack of captured arms, and replace them with the latter. A large number of arms, turned in to the ordnance department as captured, were these arms that had really been used by the Union army in the capture of Vicksburg.
The Confederacy had been cut in half. The Mississippi River now was totally controlled by the Union. The Anaconda Plan, conceived by Winfield Scott, was working in the West. The US Army stationed 5,000 colored troops to patrol and defend Vicksburg after the siege. They last would leave in 1877.
For Teaching about Vicksburg
This first site has a great image and artifact gallery
This second site has great quotes (some used above) about the conditions in the city during the siege.
Chicago has been a haven for German immigrants for a long time. It might be something about the climate, it might something about being on the edge of the frontier in the 1800s, or it might be the thriving cattle and hog industries beckoned the skills they possessed. Whatever it was, German immigrants began arriving on the shores of the lake between 1840 and 1860, German immigrants began filling up the city and the trend continued after the Civil War. In the 1880s, the German immigrants often clashed with their Irish brethren who had come over to build the I&M Canal and escape the Potato Famine. It usually involved drinking beer on a Sunday, politics, or unions. In the 20th century, German-Americans took great pride about their place in Chicago history. However, not all German-American immigrants severed ties with the Fatherland. One, Herbert Haupt from Chicago, along with seven other Nazi sympathizers tried to wreak havoc as saboteurs here in the United States during World War II. Fortunately, they were caught. Six were executed and two eventually were deported after the war. Their tale is a wild one and it begins on the north side of Chicago.
Herbert Haupt’s parents immigrated to the United States from Germany in the early 1920s. Germany was in chaos following World War I and the Weimar Republic was teetering. In Chicago, the Haupts found a home, jobs, and acceptance for their young son Herbert. Herbert grew up and graduated Lane Tech High School.
Herbert worked at Simpson Optical and made atotal of $25 a week. Haupt made friends easily, with both men and women. Friend Wolfgang Wergin said that “Herbie was a sharp dresser and attracted women. One thing he could never get off his mind was women.” Haupt’s fiance Gerda Merlend (Stuckman) was set to marry Haupt. She became pregnant. In response, Haupt and Wergin along with another friend decided to take off for Mexico on a rather spontaneous vacation. Haupt and Wegrin got into Mexico while the other friend was turned back at the border. Haupt and Wegrin then made their way to Mexico City. After a few dalliances with local women, the two men running short on cash, bought a cheap car and tried to cross back into the US. Mexican authorities required the young men of 21 and 18 to pay taxes on the car. They didn’t have the money and somehow wound up working on a freighter bound for Yokohama, Japan. They arrived there on August 24, 1941. The two eventually wound up in December 1941 near Nazi occupied Bordeaux, France when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Wergin enlisted in the German Army, Haupt took another route.
For Haupt, Germany had sent him to Stettin to live with relatives. When he and Wegrin initially arrived, they were detained by German authorities until the two mentioned they both had born in Germany. They were then sent to live with relatives in Germany and the two went their separate ways. Back home in the US, Haupt had earned a reputation for spouting off about the new greatness of the Third Reich. In fact, the family was known to be supportive of Hitler.
Soon after Haupt arrived in Stettin, he was contacted by a German officer named Walter Kappe. Kappe had spent 12 years living in the US and had returned to Germany in 1937. Kappe was part of a counter-intelligence outfit called Abwehr which was putting together a group of soldiers together who could blend in as Americans and take out military targets in the US. In essence, he was making spies. Haupt signed up but said he had no choice. He stated at his trial:
“When I saw [Kappe the second] time, he asked me if I knew that my mother’s brother was in a concentration camp and my father’s brother had been, and I answered in the affirmative. He asked me if I hadn’t noticed that I couldn’t get a job and whether or not the Gestapo and police had been bothering me, which they had. He pointed out that the only thing left for me to do was to return to the United States.”
In April 1942, Haupt began training near Brandenburg. His return to America would not be long. On June 13, 1942, four German soldiers left a Nazi submarine and landed close to Amagansett, Long Island, New York. Four nights later on June 17, another four landed near Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville, Florida. According to the FBI, their purposes were to
strike a major blow for Germany by bringing the violence of war to our home ground through destruction of America’s ability to manufacture vital equipment and supplies and transport them to the battlegrounds of Europe; to strike fear into the American civilian population; and to diminish the resolve of the United States to overcome our enemies.
When the Long Island group buried their German uniforms and had put on civilian attire, a Coast Guardsmen approached them. George (John) Dasch, 39, promptly bribed George Cullen with over $200. As soon as the men were out of sight, Cullen reported the incident to his superiors. The hunt was on. For Dasch, he did not give the mission much chance of success. He confided in fellow saboteur Ernest Burger. Upon reaching New York, Dasch called the FBI twice using the name Pastorius , the name of the mission, and ratted out his co-conspirators without their knowledge. He turned himself in when he arrived in Washington, D.C. By June 27, all men were in custody. Five were arrested in New York. Haupt and Herman Otto Neubauer were picked up in Chicago.
Evidence they were found with (All pictures courtesy of the FBI):
The question now became how to go about trying and convicting the saboteurs. Would it be in criminal court or would it be in a military court? It would be hard to convict them in a criminal court as the eight men had not committed any act other than bribing a member of the coast guard. President Franklin Roosevelt felt the six men deserved to be executed as spies. He issued Proclamation 2561 in response. It reads:
75 – Proclamation 2561 – Denying Certain Enemies Access to the Courts
July 2, 1942
Franklin D. Roosevelt
By the President of the United States of America
Whereas, the safety of the United States demands that all enemies who have entered upon the territory of the United States as part of an invasion or predatory incursion, or who have entered in order to commit sabotage, espionage, or other hostile or warlike acts, should be promptly tried in accordance with the Law of War;
Now, Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the statutes of the United States do hereby proclaim that all persons who are subjects, citizens, or residents of any Nation at war with the United States or who give obedience to or act under the direction of any such Nation and who during time of war enter or attempt to enter the United States or any territory or possession thereof, through coastal or boundary defenses, and are charged with committing or attempting or preparing to commit sabotage, espionage, hostile or warlike acts, or violations of the law or war, shall be subject to the law of war and to the jurisdiction of military tribunals; and that such persons shall not be privileged to seek any remedy or maintain any proceeding, directly or indirectly, or to have any such remedy or proceeding sought on their behalf, in the courts of the United States, or of its States, territories, and possessions, except under such regulations as the Attorney General, with the approval of the Secretary of War, may from time to time prescribe.
The prosecution in a military tribunal was selected for two reasons. First, FDR did not want the public to know that the reason they were captured so quickly was that Dasch turned them in. The second reason was that FDR wanted the death penalty. In a criminal court, intent to commit a crime might only bring about a two-year sentence and a fine.
The eight men were charged with four crimes, Articles of War 81 and 82d and two other charges against the law of war and conspiracy.
All eight were found guilty by a military tribunal. All but Burger and Dasch were sentenced to be executed. Burger and Dasch were given long prison terms later commuted by President Truman and they were deported.
The government quickly capitalized on the crimes in this short video.
At the trial, Haupt maintained all he wanted to do was to return to the US. He said had no intent of going through with the attacks on the American aluminum industry. He told his parents of his plans and he also told Neubauer of his lack of desire. The tribunal did not believe him. Haupt was executed on August 8, 1942 with the others in Washington, D.C.
The government next went after Haupt’s parents and their friends. A total of six more people were charged and convicted with treason. An appeals court would overthrow most of the rulings against Haupt’s parents and friends, although his parents would eventually be deported.
In recent years, the US government has referred back to the Haupt case, and others surrounding it, to uphold the use of military tribunals in the war on terror. George Dasch had filed a lawsuit during the proceedings to stop the tribunal. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court ruled the government was within its rights during wartime to try the case using a military tribunal. Ex parte Quirin (1942), as Dasch’s case became known, is the precedent for both the Bush and Obama administrations. However, what most historians fail to account is that FDR did not follow the precedent later in 1944 when a similar incident occurred. This document lays out the case for both sides in this wonderful PDF file that examines the issue in more detail.
For Haupt’s family, his parent’s hometown back in Germany was absorbed into Poland after the war. They had no home to go home to when the Polish kicked out the German population after the war. Gerda Merlend (Stuckman) had the baby, a son, but gave the child up for adoption. His whereabouts or identity are not known.
They Came to Kill
Saboteurs, Nazi Raid on America
In Time of War
Haupt’s Chicago Home
When I began my career as a history teacher, political cartoons were an easy tool to engage students in the days before the Internet. I could cut them out of local papers and news magazines, and even copy them out of the cartoonist’s books. The cartoon is a wonderful analytic teaching tool that allows for students to read a cartoon’s parts and also develop their own cartoons by focusing on the parts and symbols in a cartoon. Political cartoons, as an art form, predate the United States. In its brief 237 year history, there have been only been two cartoonists to define political eras. Thomas Nast defined the progressive era after the Civil War with his cartoons on Boss Tweed and monopolies along with his renderings of the now iconic images of Santa Claus, the Republican elephant, and Democratic donkey. In the 20th century, the title belongs to Herb Block, or as he is better known, Herblock. Block’s drawings of American events covered 72 years! His cartoons displayed a unique view of events, some controversial for the time period. But his career, drawings, and topics show the importance of a free press to dissent against the powers that be in order to reach the average American. For Herb Block, this right was his responsibility.
Herb was born in Chicago in 1909. His father, a chemist, was also an avid artist and cartoonist who submitted cartoons to Puck. Life, and Judge. From him, Herb gained his love of drawing. In addition, his father worked part-time for the Chicago Reporter while Herb’s brother worked at the Tribune. Working in the press was in the family blood. It was in high school that Herb began his artistic career writing and drawing for the school newspaper. It was during this time that his father suggested he merge his two names for what would become his signature – Herblock. He would take these two skills to the next level in college. He attended both Lake Forest College during the day and the Art Institute at night. He also got a part-time job as a cartoonist at age 19 for the Chicago Daily News.
After graduation, Herb took a position with the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) out of Cleveland. Herb with paycheck in hand, had a unique perspective of the New Deal and was a proponent for many of FDR’s early New Deal policies to help those who suffered during the Depression. After several New Deal policies, programs, and acts were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, FDR tried to pack the Supreme Court with more justices. Herb took offense. Herb’s actions reflect the right of the press to dissent and air grievances through art.
Political cartoons, unlike sundials, do not show the brightest hours. They often show the darkest ones, in the hope of helping us move on to brighter times. And they all represent personal views.
In the years before Word War II, Herb took a stand against fascist dictators in Europe. In the wake of World War I, the US had taken a staunch isolationist point of view in the 1920s and 30s. Very few Americans wanted the US to take an active role in European affairs. Herb’s cartoons were a dissent against the isolation. Using simple iconic images, Herb was able to get his point across. The cartoons about Germany, Italy, and Spain earned Herb his first Pulitzer Prize in 1942.
However, not everyone was pleased with his cartoons including his boss. The president of NEA, Fred Ferguson, took offense with what he viewed as Block’s own personal view and not the view of the NEA. While awaiting Ferguson’s rebuke in New York, news broke of Herb’s win. The prize vindicated Herb and only further substantiated his cartoon viewpoints.
In 1943, Herb was drafted into the army at the age of 33. He drew cartoons and published articles for the Army. It is after World War II that Block begins his prime years. In 1946, Block took a position at the Washington Post and never looked back. Block drew for the paper with complete autonomy over 40 years. In those 4o years, Block’s works came to define the Cold War, Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, and Watergate. He would add 3 more Pulitzers to his shelf in 1954, 1973, and 1979.
For Herb, this era was of particular importance. Herb said,
The Fear-Filled Forties and Fifties were a dark period, when the spread of communism abroad increased anxiety and frustration at home. The House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) had long been in the business of looking for “subversives.” The hunt was now joined by many groups, large and small, official and self-appointed. If we couldn’t crush communism abroad, a person could nail a neighbor at home. All kinds of super-patriots – from congressional committees fed by J. Edgar Hoover’s aptly named “raw files” to a New York state grocery operator – compiled lists of “un-Americans.” Simply seeing a person’s name on such a blacklist was enough to prompt entertainment and broadcast executives to ruin careers.
In response to McCarthyism, Herb not only coined the phrase but ridiculed the accusations.
Through the Sixties, Herb’s keen eye and pen created a unique look at Civil Rights, the Nuclear Arms Race, and Vietnam. However, it was Watergate where Herb rose above the pack and created a series of cartoons I still use with my students. Combined with Woodward and Bernstein’s reporting, the paper, in and of itself, helped to bring down the presidency of Nixon.
Herb continued after Nixon to make many more classic cartoons. But what these two eras and ten cartoons above show is that Herb was not afraid to step on a few toes to expose the truth even if it involved the President or the Congress. In addition to his Pulitzers, Herb also won several awards for his lifetime of work including the ACLU and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Where Herb stands out is that his drawing exemplifies the American ideal of a free press. He chose to speak out for those who couldn’t speak by drawing for them. His outrage against the events of the day turned into dissent and a redress of grievances, something he considered a right and inherent in the Bill of Rights. It was this belief that drove his work. His responsibility to was to speak for the common man and to them.
In the 1800s, political cartoons were an important part of the press and the fabric of America. The majority of Americans could not read in the 1800s but they could read a cartoon. For immigrants, the cartoon was the news. For Herb, he continued this tradition in the 20th century reaching a large portion of Washington, D.C. and the nation through the rebukes and outrage found in his art. For Herb, though, the cartoons he drew were something he thought of as common sense and filled with humor as politicians were called to task for their actions which is the responsibility of a free press.
To take a few key objects, a couple of symbols, and sum it up in one simple sentence is a true art form. Herb did that for 72 years until his death in 2001. His cartoons were the “water-cooler” discussions during the peak of America’s problems. Mike Peters of the Dayton Daily News said of Herb’s importance to and influence on the craft,
He was the father of political cartooning for everybody. As I said in my eulogy [at Herb Block’s National Cathedral memorial service], you would see him walk in like Obi-Wan Kenobi — he was the person whom everyone knew and he knew everything. He would tell you [something] only if you asked. … He walked around the newsroom a sweet little guy, but then he would shut the door and then, it was [as if] you could hear him breathing and turning in to Darth Vader. There was the dichotomy of him being so kind with his hound dog eyes and face. Then he would get in there and become [this other guy]. … He brought down giants. … Like with [Joseph] McCarthy, he knew historically what was going in. [Like Edward R. Murrow], he had the guts to go after McCarthy and knew how dangerous he was. To have someone like that, in that position at The Post — how cool was that?
Of the 20th century, he was the giant. There were a lot of great cartoonists, but there was not a great cartoonist in the position of being where every cartoon was a local cartoon in Washington. He influenced our government so much, and it’s true what Nixon said: “When you opened the paper … Oh my God.”
Current Chicago Tribune cartoonist described how Herb influenced him:
His work was a huge influence on me. Not so much artistically as much as conceptually. His passion and tenacity were a constant inspiration. Even when I was a kid growing up in Madison, Wisc., Herb’s work appeared almost daily in the afternoon daily. You just knew that his cartoon would pull no punches. I was amazed he could do that day after day.
As the Internet has continued to expand, the number of daily cartoonists in newspapers has dropped precipitously. It, along with the newspaper format, is a dying art form. Websites like Cagle.com help to get cartoonist’s work out to the public even if the cartoonist is not affiliated with a newspaper. Still, today, a political cartoon is an art form that is essential to a vibrant democracy. For 72 years, Herb Block defined that art form and its principles.
As next year’s National History Day competition begins in earnest in less than a month, I can think of no better topic that fits with the theme of Rights and Responsibilities in History than that of Herb Block.
For further reading
Books by Herb
Block, Herbert. Herblock: The Life and Works of the Great Political Cartoonist ed. by Harry Katz (2009)
Herblock’s history: political cartoons from the crash to the millennium. Library of Congress, 2000.
Herblock special report Norton, 1974
Herblock’s state of the Union. Simon and Schuster, (1972)
The Herblock gallery. Simon and Schuster, (1968)
Herblock’s here and now. Simon and Schuster, (1955).
The Herblock book (1952)
Herblock looks at Communism [1950?]
By Lauren Leffelman
*At the time of this post, Lauren is a senior in high school. She participates in volleyball, soccer, cheerleading, dance, and National Honor Society In the fall, she plans to attend Aurora University. This is her research paper which won a superior ribbon at the Illinois History Expo. Lauren is the only student I have ever known to openly cheer when told that an essay was going to be written in class.
Equality is defined as the state or quality of being equal; correspondence in quantity, degree, value, rank, or ability. In the early 1970s, women were being excluded from the benefits of equality in education. Women were not allowed equal access to athletics, financial aid, and admissions. However, a major turning point came not only the education system, but America as a whole in 1972: the establishment of Title IX. Title IX was an educational amendment act of 1972 that put an end to discrimination among females in higher education systems. The educational amendment stated that, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”  Women were now allowed to take full advantage of all that college had to offer and/or to fully participate in the college experience. Higher education had become something for not only men, but women as well. Title IX was a symbol for expanded opportunities for females. The amendment has been a driving force and an inspiration to women throughout the generations. Title IX helped to establish a place for women in the higher education systems of today.
To begin with, the Education Amendment of 1972, most commonly referred to as Title IX, originated from the 1965 presidential executive order which did not allow for federal contractors to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, or origin. Furthermore, in 1968 President Johnson extended by adding that employment could not be dependent on gender. Even further, a senior scholar for the National Association of Women in Education, Bernice R. Sandler made a connection with women in the workforce and women in college. She concluded that since colleges were considered federal contractors, they could not discriminate against the admission of women.  In 1970, the fight for women’s equality began. Legislations were being drafted banning the discrimination on the basis of gender in education. The original plan was to extend the Title VII, which was the Civil Rights Act. With much effort, Title IX was born and with that it took on its own entity. In the beginning stages of the legislation of Title IX, the wording was difficult to understand, and it was not known whether the bill would cover almost every aspect of college life including sports, housing, counseling, and health services. It took nearly three years for the government to get into specific regulations. Overall, the board decided that the entire school must be in compliance with Title IX. To make sure that all facets of the schooling systems were in compliance, the Office of Civil Rights was in charge of enforcing the amendment wholly and equally. Another piece to the foundation of this amendment was the Vocational Equity Act of 1963, which proclaimed that those with federal funding must eliminate sex bias, stereotyping, and discrimination in school systems. Title IX was subject to over 20 proposed amendments. Signed by Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972, Title IX became an amendment that would continue to evolve and benefit the lives of many.
Primarily, education is one of the most important aspects of one’s life. With Title IX now an effective law, the overall education system took on a new persona. Females were now capable of taking any course they pleased, such as criminal justice and auto mechanics, which were originally seen as “men’s work.” As a result, women were beginning to make a bigger percentage of the enrollment. For instance, before the passing of the new law, medical schools and law schools would often times take fewer than 15 women into their programs. With the development of the amendment, women were being rewarded academically much more equally. Men and women were learning by the same rules. Women could receive scholarships, and their admittance no longer was dependent on their test scores being higher than that of the men applying for enrollment. With education comes success, and with success power is sure to follow; women were becoming more and more successful with the implementation of Title IX.
Most commonly, Title IX is known for its reforms in college level athletics. In the beginning, college athletics were for men only. Women were becoming increasingly more interested in athletics. With that interest, colleges were forced to comply by making athletics an equal opportunity. Before Title IX, only one in 27 girls participated in high school sports.  With that said only 32,000 played intercollegiate sports. The reason for this was that athletic scholarships for women were virtually non-existent. Equality had to be met in all aspects of government funded schools. Therefore, women were allowed the equal opportunity to play sports while in school. However, with men’s equipment being increasingly more expensive than that of women’s equipment, it was hard to find harmony amongst the sexes. Although the sports would never be identical, they were still applied and carried out equally. Boys and girls were treated the same by their coaches, and they all reaped the same benefits. The allowance of women in college athletics proved that if you build something up, people are sure to gather. Women’s participation in sports sky rocketed. Title IX is a true example of The Field of Dreams. It gave way to a new passion that women did not even know they had. Some would argue that men’s sports were because women’s sports were on the rise. In reality, both sexes had sports revoked to avoid having to lower the budget on bigger programs such as football. However, the implementation of female athletics was dependent on interest, budget, and gender ratio. Athletics was one of the biggest addressed issues in Title IX.
Overall, Title IX had a huge impact in many areas. Generally, it worked to gain access to higher education for women. With women able to get a college education, they were able to work and be more independent. The opportunities were becoming seemingly endless. If one were to take a glance at our history, women have been making leaps and bounds into the career world and now occupy high paying jobs. The learning environment was also impacted. The government was making it so that even high schools had to correspond to the new rules. Often times girls were separated from boys. Though all girl and all boy schools still exist, facilities were more often than not unisex learning environments. With the equality of the environment, came the equal learning opportunities. Women were now majoring in science and math related careers whereas before it was a predominantly male field. When looking at the bigger picture, Title IX allowed for the evolution of the school system we know today.
Consequently, Title IX was not always well received. People were always trying to battle back against a law that was looking to cause more good rather than harm. Many of the most well-known court cases have to do with females and sexual harassment. Alexander v. Yale was the first case concerning sexual harassment that gave reference to Title IX. With this case, sexual harassment was granted an act of sexual discrimination, thus making it illegal. This case involved five female students who were pushed into silence because Yale University provided no procedure to make sexual harassment illegal. Two of the girls were harassed by a flute teacher and a hockey coach. One of the other females involved was offered an “A” by a teacher in return for sexual acts. When she told the professor no, he responded by giving her a failing grade. Although the women did not win the case, the college implemented a Grievance Procedure and established that sexual harassment was an entailment to Title IX.  One would also find that the Land of Lincoln has many well known stories that were in refusal with the new law. In the Cannon v. University of Chicago Case of 1979, when 39-year old Geraldine Cannon applied to two medical schools she was denied. She later realized that both schools would not accept candidates over the ages of 30 and 35. After more thought, she realized that her gender also made the admissions board more partial to her application. As one would guess, Cannon filed for a law suit. Her argument was that women often times could not attend college because it was interrupted by having to raise families, which is primarily seen as a woman’s task, whereas men can attend college whenever they feel like it. Once the case made it to court, all they did was pay for her attorney fees. However, her long traveled endeavor of gaining equal access to college did not go unseen. In the years to come, changes were made in college systems.  Another court case that came from the great state of Illinois was Kelley v. Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. In 1993, the University of Illinois announced that they would be getting rid of four varsity sports, one of which being the men’s swim team. The boy’s that were on the team brought a lawsuit up against the Board of Trustees. The school came back by saying that it was part of a budget cut and that it was in an effort to comply with Title IX. Swimming was chosen to be terminated because it was historically weak and it did not bring in many people because it wasn’t popular in high school.This case along with many of Illinois’ other famous court cases helped to shape Title IX.
Going back in time, Hiawatha High School of Kirkland, Illinois was subject to many issues that came with women’s equal opportunities. Imagine this: you are a female high school teacher. You yourself never had many opportunities as a woman. Though you were able to attend college, high school was not exactly a breeze. In high school, women had hardly any opportunity to play varsity sports. In turn, not having girl’s athletics was an enormous disadvantage when trying to receive a sports scholarship. It was even more difficult then to make the college team. Now in the year 2012 when asking Connie Worden, retired teacher from Hiawatha High School, what her experience was like this was her response: Her high school athletic opportunities were limited. However, when she came back to Hiawatha to teach, she decided to make a change. When she first started teaching in the 70s the only sports were for boys, which were basketball, football, and baseball. When looking through the 1976 yearbook, one would find that there were now a girls’ bowling and volleyball team that were coached by Deb Holze. In 1977, Holze coached Junior-Varsity volleyball. Seeing as Holze coached two separate teams, there was still no equity in coaching. Boys’ sports had two coaches just as they had from the beginning. In 1979 Deb Holze was still coach of the volleyball team while Sis Reichart was the bowling coach. In 1980 a new sport was added: basketball. The girl’s Junior-Varsity team was coached by Loarraine Dreska and the varsity coach was Coach O’Black. Connie Worden took on the role of being in charge of the Girls’ Athletic Association, otherwise known as the GAA. Worden lived through a very slow climb to equality at Hiawatha, a school certainly not atypical. Although it was never considered a sport, Worden would take a group of girls for an hour a week after school to do things such as camping and bike riding. Even though it was not a sport, the GAA helped to give young women the opportunity to participate in something that was never allowed in the years before.
Today, even though the playing field between men and women isn’t entirely even, women have come a long way in establishing a place in society. Through the years, the numbers have proven to show that women are making their way to the top. Today, women earn between 60-62% of Associate degrees and 58% of Bachelor degrees. Before Title IX, only 7% of women participated in high school sports compared to the 41.5% of today.  In other words, today one in 2.5 girls in America participates in sports. In 1970 only 8% of women had a college degree where as it made a huge leap to 28% in 2009.  In 1972 women received only 9% of medical degrees; today they make up 38%. In 1944 the percentage of law degrees quadrupled to 43%. The proof is in the numbers, women make up a large percentage of not only our college enrollment, but also athletics and job employment rates.
As a parting thought, Title IX was one of the greatest turning points in America in numerous ways. Title IX gave women equal access to sports, government funding, and college opportunities. Title IX has been around for more than 35 years and it is evident that the law is here to stay and continue to evolve. It has taken 35 years to get women to the place they are today, where there are no boundaries to their dreams. It is certainly true; a woman can do anything a man can do. Title IX was able to demolish the barriers and stereotypes that were placed before women and give way to a world with endless opportunities. People will continue to challenge it, but Title IX has stood strong. Being one of the biggest turning points in our history to date, Title IX deserves much more credit. With Title IX, we have reached a state where we can all be equal, whether you are a male or female, black or white, athletic or not athletic, rich or poor. Title IX has allowed for women to work in correspondence with men, be CEO’s of big companies, be part of a presidential cabinet, and be gold medalist winners of the Olympics. The playing fields are open to everyone, it is just up to the generation of today to keep it that way and work past the boundaries that society sets before us. It took only 37 words for America to reach the success it has today, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” However, it takes America as a whole to keep it alive and to keep making history. Success has been achieved, but it is a never ending effort to keep pushing forth and create total equality. On a positive note, Title IX has altered the mindset of America and has enforced a strong belief that all men and women are created equal. Title IX had the power to change a nation and it continues to do so.
 “Title IX and Sex Discrimination.” U.S. Department of Education. Last modified 1998. http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/tix_dis.html.
 “Women’s Equity Resource Center.” Education Development Center | Learning transforms lives. http://www2.edc.org/womensequity/resource/title9/before.htm.
 “Women’s Equity Resource Center.” Education Development Center | Learning transforms lives. http://www2.edc.org/womensequity/resource/title9/before.htm.
 “Debunking the Myths About Title IX and Athletics | National Women’s Law Center.” National Women’s Law Center. http://www.nwlc.org/resource/debunking-myths-about-title-ix-and-athletics.
 “Title IX: Taking Yale to Court | The New Journal.” The New Journal. http://www.thenewjournalatyale.com/2011/04/title-ix-taking-yale-to-court/.
 Bruner, Darlene Y. “Cannon v. University of Chicago – Law and Higher Education.” Higher education law. Last modified November 12, 2010. http://lawhighereducation.com/24-cannon-v-university-of-chicago.html.
 National Association of College and University Attorneys. http://www.nacua.org/documents/Kelley_v_U_of_I.pdf.
 Interview: Connie Worden
 Feminist Majority Foundation. “Gender Equality in Athletics and Sports.” Last modified 2012. http://www.feminist.org/sports/titleIXfactsheet.asp.
 United States Department of Justice. “Equal Access to Education: Forty Years of Title IX.” Last modified June 23, 2012. http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/edu/documents/titleixreport.pdf.