[Unit 7 Document Analysis]

Edited (4/4/20): the 2020 APUSH exam will be a modified 5-doc DBQ. Thus, answering this prompt CAN be useful for reviewing content and for exam practice.

Use the 1941 cartoon below to complete the following tasks that are practice for the Document-Based Question (DBQ).


(Image from UCSD Special Collections)

  1. In about one sentence, describe the historical context of the cartoon, using at least one specific historical detail.
  2. In about one sentence, describe the perspective (Point of View), of the artist. What does he want to communicate to the audience of the cartoon? How does he want to make them feel about the context you mentioned in #1?
  3. In about one sentence, describe how you could use this cartoon to explain how American’s views of foreign policy changed over time between 1920 and 1945.

1) The cartoon shows America absently existing in the same space as Nazi Germany right before America entered World War Two.
2) The writer, Dr. Suess, was trying to communicate the amount of ignorance America was showing during the beginning of World War Two towards the prominent evils of Nazi Germany.
3) The cartoon shows how America became more relaxed with foreign policy between 1920 and 1941. America showed that they were fine existing with other evils, and possibly that ignorance was key.

a) This cartoon represents the spread of Fascist ideals due to the increased influence and power of Nazi Germany as it continued to grow from 1933 to the 1941 date of the drawings publishing.
b)This artist holds a point of view that nazi ideology is a disgusting creature with the ability to harm that should be stopped but America, with its isolationist and “America First” attitude has purposely neglected it and allowed to enter it’s hemisphere.
c)Due to the effects of the WW1, Amercians adopted the “American first” ideology that became widespread throughout the US allowing for the neglect of foreign affairs and the eventual establishment of facism, but as the height of the second world war approached, the spread of facism opened the eyes of the American public to the problems with this policy and the impacts it has had on the world as seen by the neglect of facism depicted in this image.

  1. The historical context of the cartoon is during World War 1 prior to US entry into the war. This is clear because there is a swastika on animals trying to take control and the “America First” person is doing fine just concerned for himself.

  2. The point of view of the artist is that by being neutral and not involved in the war, the U.S. is leaving itself in harm’s away as a more powerful Nazi Germany could hurt the U.S.

  3. The cartoon portrays a relaxed America not concerned in worldly affairs, demonstrating that after WW1 American foreign policy shifted back to isolationism.

1 Like

1.This cartoon depicts the USA in blissful ignorance as Nazi Germany threatens it just before World War II.
2. Theodore Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) used this cartoon to communicate his opinion, which was that the Nazis were a threat to American safety, yet the Americans chose to ignore them.
3. One could use this cartoon to explain changes in American foreign policy between 1920 and 1945 by saying that, though America began this time period with an isolationist attitude that ended disastrously, it would not make the same mistake again, adopting a policy of foreign intervention.

a) During 1941, America had implemented its isolationist policy during WWII and was ignoring Germany and the Nazis taking over in Europe. America had decided to stay neutral in European conflicts following WWI and the devastation of the Great Depression, with Congress passing the Neutrality Acts.
b) The artist in this cartoon is demonstrating that America is not safe from the Nazis and should not be using an isolationist policy.
c) I could use this cartoon to demonstrate that between 1920 and 1945, America became increasingly less isolationist in foreign affairs, especially with WWII.

  1. In 1941 the United States was battling the issue of nativism, a hatred towards foreigners, and xenophobia, a fear of foreigners, most notably, as depicted in the political cartoon, Americans were worried about the spread of communism and socialism which would further isolationist policies and anti-immigrant sentiment leading up to the United States’ involvement in World War II.

  2. From the author’s perspective they most likely intended to strike fear in American citizens that thought that, because of the government’s isolationist policies, they were shielded from the political practices, such as communism and socialism, of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. The author wants to incite fear by depicting Uncle Sam in a bathtub full of ideas that the American people during this time period were generally afraid of.

  3. This cartoon displays the change that American went from being afraid of bolshevism in the 1920s, for example there was a revolution, called the Red Scare, that was fed by anti-German hysteria and the success of the Bolshevik revolution, to being afraid of communism and socialism in the 1940s when the United States was fighting in WWII.

Period 7 is the period that I am the most unfamiliar with so I would greatly appreciate any constructive criticism.

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