The Wilton Historical Society Presents:
Exhibition Opens Friday, March 24, 2017, 12:30
Timely exhibition shows 1940s “America First” policy was satirized by Dr. Seuss
Includes Gallery “Walk and Talk” with guest curator, Dr. Matthew Warshauer. All are welcome, no charge, refreshments served.
Dr. Seuss, Political Cartoons & the Battle over Isolationism vs Intervention tells, through compelling cartoons and prints of the period, the fascinating story of how the United States moved from efforts to remain neutral during the Great War to “America First” and engagement in WWII. The show opening Friday, March 24 at 12:30, will feature a gallery “Walk and Talk” with guest curator Dr. Matthew Warshauer. All are welcome, no charge, refreshments served.
The exhibition traces how artists, including Dr. Seuss, portrayed these shifts in foreign policy through cartooning and printmaking. The nation’s political struggles over entering WWI, the blitz of pro-war propaganda that followed US entry into the conflict, and the subsequent return to isolationism when Congress refused to join the League of Nations are played out in cartoons and prints. Should America remain isolated from foreign conflicts or intervene in an attempt to further democracy and safeguard the world? Should we be the “World Policeman”? Approximately 35 images display a wide range of styles as their creators sought to configure difficult decisions and complex ideas into images which telegraphed the essence of the message, helping the public understand the debate.
Included in the exhibition are six cartoons by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), who, before he became an acclaimed children’s book author, created more than 400 political cartoons for a small, liberal New York newspaper. He responded to the “America First” movement of the 1940s isolationist movement with a series of scathing images.
Guest curator Dr. Warshauer received his B.A. in history from Central Connecticut State University in 1990, and completed his M.A. (1993) and Ph.D. (1997) in American Studies at Saint Louis University. He joined the faculty at CCSU in the fall of 1997, and is Professor of History. His first book, Andrew Jackson and the Politics of Martial Law: Nationalism, Civil Liberties, and Partisanship (2006) was widely recognized as one of the newest considerations in many years of Andrew Jackson, receiving favorable reviews in major history journals and in the New Yorker, which describe his work as “lucid and well researched.”
Warshauer followed with the 2009 publication of Andrew Jackson in Context. Author Jon Meacham recognized that it “brilliantly sorts through the historiographical debate.” At the same time Warshauer expanded his scholarly focus to Connecticut state history by serving from 2003-2011 as editor of the journal, Connecticut History. This led him to extensive interaction with the state’s public history community, and to the creation of the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission in 2009, for which he served as co-chair until 2015. Warshauer published two books on Connecticut’s involvement in the conflict. Connecticut in the American Civil War: Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival (2011), about which Pulitzer Prize winning historian Mark Neely notes, “I hope that every state’s commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War produces a study as good as this one.” The second work, Inside Connecticut and the Civil War: Essays on One State’s Struggles, (2014) is an edited work, consisting of chapters written by Warshauer’s graduate students. Paul Cimbala of Fordham University noted that “No Civil War collection worth its salt should be without this volume.”