Uncle Sam Goes Blindfolded Into Treachery
18.25 x 15.25 in (46.355 x 38.735 cm)
This c. 1917 manuscript political cartoon depicts Uncle Sam walking blindfolded, with his hands folded behind his back, toward an assailant holding a knife. This is the original artwork created by the artist, W. Knox, with the editor's suggestions added in pencil. We have found no published versions of this cartoon, so this is a unique piece. In this cartoon, Uncle Sam's posture is decidedly vulnerable, as his chest is unprotected and he will walk into the knife on his own if he does not stop. It appears that the assailant is meant to be Mexico, and the editor's suggestion lends even more plausibility to that scenario. Without a date or any information about the artist, W. Knox, it is difficult to date this cartoon. The use of Uncle Sam dates to the early 1800s, so his appearance does not aid in dating this piece. Our best guess is that it dates from early 1917, following the release of the Zimmermann Telegram. The Zimmermann Telegram was a communication sent by the German Foreign Office to the German ambassador to Mexico because the Germans were going to resume unrestricted submarine warfare in February 1917. The telegram states that Germany proposed an alliance with Mexico and urged them to declare war on the United States if the U.S. entered the First World War (WWI) against Germany. It also pledged German support for the invasion and the guarantee that if Germany and Mexico won the war, they could reclaim the territory they had lost to the U.S. The telegram was intercepted by the British in January 1917, released to the press by President Wilson, and confirmed as genuine by the German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann in March. Mexico remained neutral throughout the First World War.
Another element of this cartoon that implies that it is referring to the Zimmerman telegram is the editor's comment along the right margin. They state, 'I would hone the blind fold to represent un-prepardness [sic] (which is underlined several times). Try to strengthen the idea of your cartoon.' The emphasis on the element of unpreparedness suggests the period directly before American involvement in the First World War, because the United States had not begun to prepare for involvement in the war due to strong isolationist popular opinion and a belief that the war was a European problem. This one-of-a-kind piece would make an incredible addition to any collection, particularly for those interested in Mexican-American relations or political cartoons.
Good. Glued to posterboard but could be removed. We have left it in its original state.