Before ‘Cat In The Hat,’ Dr. Seuss Drew Cartoons To fight ‘America First, Racism, Fascism’

Nearly two decades before he gave us our favorite breakfast recipe in “Green Eggs and Ham,” (1960) Dr. Seuss used his sharp wit and even sharper pen to draw political cartoons.

On this day, Dr. Seuss was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in 1904, and while children across the nation put on their red-and-white striped top hats to read “Cat in the Hat” or “Fox in Socks,” political junkies might flip through the digital archives at UC San Diego Library to survey the good doctor’s work from the 1940s.

Dr. Seuss drew more than 400 satirical cartoons for the now defunct New York daily newspaper PM between 1941-1943.

As author Richard H. Minear points out in his 2001 book, “Dr. Seuss Goes To War,”  his PM cartoons “make us more aware of the of the political messages often embedded within the sugar pill of Dr. Seuss’ signature zaniness.”

He lambasted such themes as immigration, racism, anti-Semitism, isolationism and fascism, taking special aim at the America First movement of the day.

What would his take be today on President Trump’s “America first” mantra?

Dr. Seuss rails against America First

Unrelated by blood, they are joined in a manner that mystifies the mightiest minds in the land!, (July 8, 1941, Dr. Seuss Political Cartoons. Special Collection & Archives, UC San Diego Library)

Adolf and the Wolf

.. and the wolf chewed up the children and spit out their bones… but those were foreign children and it really didn’t matter., (Oct. 1, 1941, Dr. Seuss Political Cartoons. Special Collection & Archives, UC San Diego Library)

Relatives?

Naw… Just three fellers going along for the ride! (June 18, 1941, Dr. Seuss Political Cartoons. Special Collection & Archives, UC San Diego Library)

Hide!

Hey! Hide if you have to, but by thunder, stop nibbling. (Sept. 5, 1941, Dr. Seuss Political Cartoons. Special Collection & Archives, UC San Diego Library)

Start winning again?

Remember… no punting… no passing… no plunging. Just dig in on your one inch line and WIN! (Oct. 9, 1941, Dr. Seuss Political Cartoons. Special Collection & Archives, UC San Diego Library)

Will it wash off?

The old Family bath tub is plenty safe for me! (May 27, 1941, Dr. Seuss Political Cartoons. Special Collection & Archives, UC San Diego Library)

Vote America First?

Vote with care in Novermber ’42, and you’ll never get hurt in a war! (Dec. 3, 1941, Dr. Seuss Political Cartoons. Special Collection & Archives, UC San Diego Library)

This 1944 or 2016?

Keep your eye on the bum that’s tagging along behind! (July 4, 1941, Dr. Seuss Political Cartoons. Special Collection & Archives, UC San Diego Library)

Who owns the patent to this Seuss invention?

What this country needs is a good mental insecticide. (June 11, 1942, Dr. Seuss Political Cartoons. Special Collection & Archives, UC San Diego Library)

What kind of Sneetch are you?

During the war, Dr. Seuss was an Army captain, working as a propaganda and  documentary filmmaker. When the war was over, he returned to work full time as children’s books author. But his political ideas never left him, appearing frequently in his most beloved work

In 1961, his short story “The Sneetches” was published. Here he tells the allegory of those who have stars and those who don’t. It was a sharp critique of the racial divide in the U.S. at the time, but which is still as relevant to today as it was back then.

What would Dr. Seuss be drawing today?

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