Saturday, October 10, 2020

Gluyas Williams: Crisis in Washington

What if the sitting president refuses to leave the White House when his term is up? This surprisingly topical question has already been asked and answered by cartoonist Gluyas Williams—in 1929! 

President Coolidge refuses point-blank to vacate the White
House until his other rubber is found
Gluyas Williams
The Gluyas Williams Book, Doubleday Doran, 1929, p. 31
First published in Life, Vol. 93, No. 2415, February 15, 1929, page 10
Scan by Tom Bloom

Obviously, the political situation at the time of the 1928 election was not analogous to today's. President Calvin Coolidge did not seek a second term in office. He was succeeded by fellow Republican Herbert Hoover, who defeated Democrat Al Smith. Prosperity seemed assured.

The Williams cartoon appeared in the February 15, 1929 issue of the old Life magazine with the heading Crisis in Washington. The Life caption refers to the president as Mr. Coolidge rather than President Coolidge. This was a timely cartoon because in 1929 the inauguration was still held on March 4. Eight years later, it would be moved up to January 20, where it remains.

So the caption was reworked slightly for the 1929 publication of The Gluyas Williams Book, presumably because Mr. Coolidge was deemed too informal. The Crisis in Washington heading was dropped.

The Gluyas Williams Book, Doubeday Doran, 1929
Scan by Tom Bloom

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Historical Society, founded in 1791, seems to have the original Williams art in its collection...and on its Twitter account. The caption on the matte is identical to the published caption in Life:

Note:  My thanks to Tom Bloom for spotting this cartoon, recognizing its timeliness, and providing the book scans. This is Tom's fourteenth contribution to the blog, give or take a few ballots. 


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