Hits Wanton Hunters

Homer Davenport, Famous Cartoonist, Pleads for Animals Tortured to Make Man’s Pleasure. In 1907 he created a series of cartoons for The Sunday Spokesman-Review from Spokane, Washington. Mr. Davenport’s purpose is to make unpopular the wanton slaughter of the wild life of America. The cartoons will be a powerful plea for the protection and preservation of the harmless creatures of the forests and the plains. Below is the entire series of 8 images, with text by Davenport and copyrighted for publication by Katharine Newbold Birdsall.

Is This Sport?

June 16, 1907: If you want to hunt any of the few remaining species of harmless wild game that this country has, by all means shoot it with a camera and not with a gun. You will get plenty of exercise, camping in the mountain air will do you good, and I know you will be happier when the trip is over than if you went on your vacation to kill. No one has ever told me any good reason for wanting to kill so beautiful a creature as a deer.

Out in the Rocky Mountains lives a man who understands human nature, that is, a big percentage of it. He knows that many of the men that hunt things to kill are vain.

He has fenced in several thousand acres as a private park, where the deer and elk breed and thrive as if in the wild state. They are naturally much tamer than other deer and elk. For during hard winters they are fed.

The proprietor of this almost natural park has grown wealthy by letting hunting privileges to a class that are willing to pay a big price that they may be photographed in the roles of heroes just after they have killed some innocent door or elk or bear. They would rather, of course, have the picture show them in the act of killing, but, as it is difficult to get good, clear negatives under such circumstances, they stand as the young hunter does in the cut above, making their best pose. The picture they mail to friends in the hope of winning admiration.

How many men would do this if they saw the pictures they are so proud of as others see them? How many men in those times of plentiful food would murder a beautiful, harmless little deer just for the privilege of being photographed, if they could realize the awfulness of the crime from the deer’s point of view? Posing for such a photograph would be bad enough were one’s family starving and it was necessary to kill deer for food. It’s bad enough to kill time in hunting with a gun, but think how much worse it is to kill time and also kill innocent animals.

When these sportsmen go to the Rockies to hunt and send home photographs showing them standing on the neck or ribs of some beautiful creature they have killed how careful they are not to write on the pictures, “I paid extra to hunt this half-tamed little deer in a fenced-in park, where it couldn’t get away, and when my rifle shot was heard through the trees a photographer rushed from the camera depot and made the picture.”

The sportsman who has his picture taken just after killing doesn’t tell you how carefully he opened the once sparkling eye, so that it, may look nearly as pretty in death as it did just before the crack of the rifle. He doesn’t go into details as to how he propped the deer’s head up with rocks, or how he stuck out his chest the moment the camera man said, “Ready.”

Instead, he writes: “I just happened to be photographed as I walked up and put a foot on a deer that I had shot a moment before after very difficult aim.”

Such sportsmen would have us believe that their feats were so remarkable that the photographers couldn’t resist the temptation to take aim with their cameras. No advertising of this mountain doesn’t preserve is needed. Hunters travel hundreds of miles to be photographed in it with their innocent prey. The deer and elk don’t destroy anything of value, and the men that kill them generally use the dead bodies for photographing purposes until the meat is spoiled.

Not Hard to Shoot Tame Birds

June 23, 1907: At least once a year we read in the papers cabled news of some member of royalty enjoying the slaughter of the beautiful pheasants which their gamekeepers have so tenderly reared during the previous spring. I remember once, when some offshoot of a certain king’s family came to see him, he celebrated the occasion by a big hunt among the young pheasants that had just gotten their fine plumage. The dispatch read something like this:

“The King and his guest, Prince so-and so, killed 700 pheasants today, and were so tired that they remained for the night at the king’s country estate, at so-and-so. The king enjoyed the day and out-shot, his guest. It. was the first shoot of the season and, considering the time of the year, the birds flew Very well. The king and his guest will shoot grouse tomorrow.”

When you read a dispatch like that, you wonder if the fact that several hundred wounded birds crawl away to suffer for several days and finally die ever bothers the royal sports.

The cartoon above doesn’t show royalty killing pheasant; it shows our home folks indulging in the slaughter. A king may be excused for killing pheasants, for he has nothing else to do to keep him from stumbling into all sorts of ruts. But with anyone else it’s different. This man in the picture doesn’t want birds for eating. He is suffering from indigestion, and possibly gout. Still, he is immensely pleased at the shot he has just made.

Is it his desire merely to kill? No, he has a curiosity to see a beautiful creature suddenly fall from the air.

A man in Oregon, whom I knew, was going on one occasion for a ten-mile drive, and someone remarked that he had better take a shotgun, as the young China pheasants were getting to be quite big. So he borrowed a gun. I went with him. We hadn’t gone more than three miles when we saw, just over the fence, a fine covey of pheasants–father, mother and nine half-grown young ones.

The man climbed out of the carriage quietly and tiptoed alongside the fence to where the blackberry bushes were thicker. Then, resting his gun on the fence, he took good aim. But he didn’t fire, and I asked him why not. He replied in a whisper that he was waiting till he could get more of the pheasants together. While he was waiting the male pheasant, as beautiful a specimen as you ever saw, picked a grub from the ground, and with a low note, called some of his young near, and as they bunched around the proud and glittering pheasant cock the man with the gun prepared to pull the trigger. The next moment his dyspepsia gave him a twinge of pain, he paused, let the hammers down on his gun and walked back to the buggy, some of the pheasants meanwhile flying away and the rest running off across the field.

When I asked him why he didn’t shoot, he said: “Why should I have killed and crippled that beautiful family? I saw they were enjoying life even more than we, as they were not bothered with dyspepsia, and I didn’t believe I had any right to inflict wanton pain on such beautiful, harmless creatures.”

Think of royalty, of others who can afford the expense, wanting to rear pheasants, and then, when the birds are just getting their full plumage, ordering the men that, have fed them from their hands to scare them up so that the owners can shoot them! And the hunters often in poor health from overfeeding! Just what sport there is in that sort of outing and “farming” is something I cannot fathom.

Another Form of Sport

June 30, 1907: To those of us who are happy when we kill something this picture should be especially pleasing, because by shooting one the slayer killed three. The two little fawns will eventually starve to death and will be tender bits for the vultures waiting on the “bleachers.”

One would naturally think that a man, however thoughtless or heartless he may be, would not kill during the time of year when the wild mothers have young at their sides. But the fact is that game laws have to be provided for the protection of wild animals against the tame animals (men) during the early months of spring and summer, when the young of the wild animals are small. Nature protects them in a way against their animal enemies, such as wolves, bears and panthers, by giving them the power during that period to rid themselves of their scent to a certain degree and thus throw their pursuers off their trail. But nature overlooked the modern “sport” with the gun and his “sportsman’s spirit.” It takes more than the sight of the helpless young at the mother’s side to cause the killer not to shoot.

Cases are not uncommon every summer when campers in the mountains meet some bleating little fawn running up to beg to be fed. The mother has been shot just to satisfy the “sporting instinct” of some thoughtless human being, who couldn’t wait for the season to open.

Why is this season called the “shooting season?” Is it a season when we rush out with our guns and get meat enough to last for the rest of the year? Or is it that our families are craving for venison, and that we shoot to satisfy their wants? No, we have passed that stage; those that might appreciate the meat as food never have the time to hunt.

The so-called hunting season is a period apart to permit the men who must kill to satisfy that desire. That, as a race, we human beings are slowly improving is shown by the fact that as years go on our legislatures make the murdering season shorter.

Could any tragedy be more terrible than the killing of a harmless mother deer, who was at the time rearing her beautiful fawns far away from even a frontier settlement? Imagine the innocent suffering of these two little orphans! Imagine the starving little body of a growing baby! Imagine this little thing wondering why its silent mother does not satisfy it and give relief to the slow fever of starvation! Tragedies like this are constantly occurring in the woods, and just because some one is trying the sights on his new rifle.

When the early settler came and found his place swarming with wild animals, he killed them only for his food and safety. But as the game disappeared he didn’t follow them far, as a rule, but turned his thoughts to more worthy channels. He had work to do. As his sons grow up, he discouraged the keeping of guns. And we of today are improving. In time, it seems to me, the killing of harmless animals will have almost stopped. It would stop today if the hunter would only think before he pulls the trigger–if he would consider for a moment the beauties and pleasures that, must be in a deer’s life, bounding over mountains and through valleys, free from diseases that follow in the path of the caged animals.

Proud of His Trigger Finger

July 7, 1907: Pictures like the one above are frequently posed for by men who take no interest in the conditions of life among wild birds or beasts other than to learn where they can be shot in the greatest numbers. Such men see few of the beauties of nature. Apparently they never are bothered by the fact that, they have killed more game than they can eat. But if the innocent animals that they destroy had souls, and these hunters were confronted suddenly by those souls, they might find it hard work to ease their minds.

How often we have seen in newspapers photographs of scenes, like the one herewith presented, showing some person proud of the fact that he is surrounded by a large quantity of game which he has killed. Here is a picture of supreme contentment, and triumph. The hunter is prouder than was Napoleon when he was reviewing his army. Few occasions are ever so important to this overfed, dyspeptic killer as when he is being photographed surrounded by the carcasses that have contributed to his day’s fun. The torture he has caused is nothing to him, not to speak of the great loss of bird and animal life. The dogs sometimes look ashamed in such pictures, but the great hero is very proud of his trigger finger and his splendid eye. He is at last a hero.

It is a very strange part of our nature, this desire to hold a killing bee. We soon would outgrow it, if we only studied the habits of harmless wild game. Then we would become aware of the pleasure they derive from life. We are foolish enough to excuse ourselves by saying, “Well, since I enjoy life as we do, and so there’s no harm in killing them.” Such ignorance! Untouched by the diseases that afflict the human race, the beautiful deer and wild birds lend a life so delightful that almost any human being would be thrown into ecstasies over one brief week of such an existence, if not pursued by men with guns.

Could a hunter see a doe rear her fawn, observing day by day her motherly care, and could he see the care bestowed and comfort taken by a pair of wild geese in rearing their little broods year by year, he would kill no more than was needed to satisfy hunger.

I believe we are waking up to the enormity of the crime of killing innocent game. I was present at a gun club dinner the other night, and the first speaker hit the nail on the head by saying that it was a strange sort of affair for him to attend, for he never had taken pleasure in trying to kill anything. And other speakers who had intended to tell of big hauls that they had made with the guns avoided the subject as a result of his example.

A young doctor who sat near me said that after he had killed almost everything that the law allowed him to, except wild turkeys, he was invited to go to the south by a friend, who assured him that he could give him some turkey shooting. After the doctor had shot two of the beautiful creatures he spared sixteen that had been tricked, one at a time, into answering an imitation of their own call. Instead of taking the lives of these birds of an almost extinct, glossy species from the blind where he was hidden, the doctor photographed them, and somehow he enjoyed the camera work more than he could have enjoyed using the gun.

This, coming from one who loved to shoot as well as any man, is encouraging. And if you want to attend a dry affair, go to a huntsmen’s dinner in a generation from now.

Slaughtering Turtle Doves

July 14, 1907: Any one who knows the habits and nature of turtle doves would no more imagine that they would be shot than that men would kill humming-birds. Yet they are slain by thousands while wintering in the South. These beautiful, dainty and easily tamed little birds have a peculiar, swift, darting flight. This appeals to a certain class of “sportsmen” who like to shoot at a fairly difficult flying mark.

If the farmer, who has enjoyed hearing the soft, mournful notes of a pair of doves that have rested regularly for years on a certain rail of the garden fence, misses these soothing notes when the time for their advent arrives, he may take it for granted that the birds have been killed on their winter migration.

In the South men who call themselves “sportsmen” feed the doves for several days in one spot, and thousands of these beautiful little wild pigeons are led to believe that man is really kind. They become so tame that they are easily tricked to their death by the shooters, who slaughter them by wholesale–and not for food.

After a big shoot the hunters bait the doves in a new place, feeding them for a week daily by leaving a bag of wheat scattered about the ground. After the doves’ confidence has been restored, the hunters again revel in the “sport” of bagging them, twenty or more at a shot.

No bird commands more sympathy than this dainty little mourning dove. It was never known to destroy anything, and it is a mystery why man should take pleasure in its indiscriminate slaughter. Why will they not be content to test their marksmanship on some other kind of target?

Cruel But Thoughtless

July 21, 1907: There are few boys who haven’t at some time in their lives, robbed bird’s nests. This does not mean that these boys are really cruel; that they kill and destroy with a desire to be inhuman. It, of course, means that they do not think. You cannot find a boy that would kill a robin with his sling shot, if he knew that, somewhere hidden away in a tree, there was a nest containing helpless young robins dependent entirely on the mother bird.

But you can find thousands of boys who would kill a robin, or any other bird, with a brand new slingshot without stopping to think of just what it means. Boys like to hunt and kill mainly because they hear the hunting stories of their elders. These stories take them through a wilder age, where the heroes hunt and kill. Airguns and slingshots that are made and offered for sale stimulate the killing instincts of children.

But there is no need to stop making airguns and slingshots. Our boys can keep on using these good old “weapons” if we will only give them the proper training. I believe the most hardened birds’-nest-robbing boy in New York would be reformed if he could spend a season with a man like John Burroughs (right). Such a naturalist as Mr. Burroughs could slow the boy how diligently the mother and father birds work to build their nest and to rear their young and with what care they protect their nestlings. He could teach him to see the real beauty of the birds’ life.

To know well the difference in species of birds at once lessens the desire to kill. To see, year after year, the same bluebirds return to the same birdhouse to nest; to watch the orioles weave and lace their stocking-like nests–if this is once taught and explained to a boy, even if he is an expert with a slingshot, the finer side of his nature will rule and he will have less desire to aim his boyish “weapon” at a feathered mark.

Killing by boys, anyway, is done for the most part to study the bird or animal at close range. It takes only a brief explanation to convince a boy that to kill a beautiful creature just to see the few red feathers of his neck or the blue feathers of his wings is heartless as well as foolish.

Reverse the process. Imagine the horror and sadness in the world if a certain kind of bird, just to tell whether boys had blue or brown eyes, killed children! You have, however, seen boys exhibiting with pride some beautiful little wild canary they lulled as he sang on the back yard fence. They were attracted first by this bird’s beautiful song, next by his pretty plumage. They knew when they killed him that the song would stop, never to be heard again, but they wanted to examine his bright yellow breast at closer range.

An hour’s talk a week would stop boys from depredations of this kind–they would awake to the fact that a life is a life.

Starved to Save Money

July 28, 1907: It is easy to believe that Mrs. Minnie Maddern Fiske (right), the great actress, was moved to tears by the sights she saw from the car windows as she was crossing the continent during the winter months. Mrs. Fiske deserves great credit for her courage in being the pioneer in a crusade against the rich cattle range owners of the west. I am glad to join her as a weak understudy to help point the finger of shame, if it is possible, at the millionaire who would rather let one-third of his cattle suffer and starve to death than spend a little money for their protection.

The big cattlemen of the west are a queer class. They make vast fortunes from their herds with little expense; none, in fact, in the way of feed or shelter.

There is an element of the gambler in their makeup. If it is a light winter their profits are enormous, for the next season’s grass without cost makes their cattle fat. If the winter is a hard one, with lots of snow, and the cows and their calves die by thousands–that is part of the game. At the worst, no money is wasted in furnishing food and shelter for the herds. Pastured in lands illegally owned in many instances, herded by the wolves that feed upon the calves and older and weaker cows, the only expense is a few stock bulls and some of the cheapest salt. But a hundred thousand tons of wild hay could be cut and stacked with little cost. This, while it would save the calves by the hundreds of thousands, would be spending money when perhaps a very “open” winter would bring a pretty good percentage of their cattle through alive, though with cruel suffering.

You wonder, as Mrs. Fiske wonders, that, when some of these cattle kings are wintering in the art galleries of Paris and New York, paying for a single picture what would have saved 20,000 mother cows and calves, they are not confronted by a mental picture of a starving herd–the once beautiful calf dead from hunger and cold, the mother displaying the true love that only mothers have, trying to protect the corpse of her baby from the wolves.

No imagination could overdraw the suffering of these homeless cattle. At winter’s first warning they wander bellowing mile after mile, hoping that, though nature has failed to provide, their owner has not forgotten them. They wander wasting the strength that they will need so much before spring comes. They are followed by the wolves eager for the younger calves. They call, but no answer comes save from the wolf and coyote. The snow pelts them in the face and they bunch and wait through the long nights, their bodies nourished only by the flesh stored when the grass was good. They find the watering hole where they used to quench their thirst, but alas, that is frozen over; at every turn the wolves, like ghosts, are always eyeing them. Winter grows more severe. They die from starvation or are killed by the great wolves. Spring is slow in coming.

All this time their wealthy owners are mildly interested as to what percentage of cattle “got through.”

Fashionable But Helpless

August 4, 1907: To every observing person who visits the great pigeon shows of the present day one form of cruelty to animals must be apparent. It is seen in the creations man has evolved from the old common Blue Rock pigeon. Because many men seldom think along humane lines the pigeon suffers all his life, merely to suit the fads and fancies of persons who call themselves “breeders.”

Imagine Burbank creating a pear tree that didn’t produce fruit, or a vine, that, just after starting up, turned and grew back to the ground. No one would give this man, whose fame has gone around the world, respectful attention.

What a howl would go up if some society was organized to bring about the marriage of hunchbacked people, thereby establishing a deformed race. Steps would immediately be taken to break up the movement, and rightly. To my mind people attempting to raise the fan-tail pigeon, that trembles as he strains in his effort to stand, should be stopped by the state, for they are creating an unhappy creature in violation of the laws of nature.

The high-class fan-tail pigeon is a tiresome creature, to behold. There is no such thing for him as a restful position. Feed him with other pigeons and they will eat all the food before he can get his head to the ground. If he sees a cat or other menace approaching, he becomes a nervous wreck and can’t fly.

The pigeon is unable to help himself. He is mated against his will with another in as bad a plight, and the union of such produces a bird that tips his head until it is behind his tail. And yet men receive medals for success in developing such species!

The Jacobin pigeon has had its hood developed until it is unable to see. It has to grope around in the loft to find feed and water. It is no good at flying, and only with great difficulty would it find its way back to its nest. There is no wonder that it is helpless to escape from hawks and rats. And yet the Jacobin was once a happy bird, capable of flying and enjoying life to the full. It had a small ruffle on its neck which caused no trouble. This furnished an excuse for man to overdo nature beyond all reason. The Jacobin has a gloomy existence merely to make some fancier happy.

The short-billed pigeons also suffer seriously from man’s ingenuity in creating freaks. They are bred now until the bill has practically disappeared. As the dove family breeds its young by the parent taking the offspring by the bill, it is growing more difficult for the short billed pigeons to perform this duty, so most of them die in the nest when a day or two old. Accordingly, the breeder can say truthfully that few of them are reared and he can command high prices. Men who raise degenerate creatures that are curses to themselves for a reason they don’t understand should be punished by the law.

Oregon’s Media Super-Star

On Saturday, August 5, 2023, The Davenport Project in partnership with the Silver Falls Public Library and the Homer Davenport Days festival, will reprise our annual presentation on the life and times of political cartoonist Homer C. Davenport, late of Silverton. There will be two showings: 12:30 p.m. and again at 3:30 p.m.

Homer C. Davenport

In the decade of the 1890s, just before the dawn of a new century, American society was going through a transition; from horses and trains to automobiles and airplanes. Change was everywhere. Through it all, Oregon-born cartoonist Homer Davenport was there, wielding his pen to spray a steady stream of caustic caricatures onto the notables and notorious of the global political scene.

Homer Davenport (1867-1912) was Oregon’s first media super-star. Born in Silverton, Oregon, into the pioneer Davenport and Geer families, he became a world traveler and developed a second career of breeding Arabian horses. His life is a story of fame, political influence, family connections, artistic creativity, and discovery. Yet, few outside his hometown are even aware of the impact this self-described “country boy” had on society.

His unique rural Oregon upbringing, along with a supportive and nurturing home life, equipped Davenport with the intellectual tools and the artistic skills needed to hit the ground running, in spite ofsome would say because ofa lack of formal training. He arrived on the scene during a perfect storm of technology and public sentiment. One New York State Senator even sponsored a bill to outlaw political cartoons, because of the influence of Davenport’s work.

For this presentation, Davenport historian Gus Frederick will present a visual overview of Davenport’s art, life and times. With emphasis on the enabling reprographics technology of the era, as well as a snap-shot of Davenport’s contemporaries, Frederick will show graphically how the turn of the Twentieth Century was the golden age of the cartoonist and graphic illustrator. And how a small-town Oregonian occupied a major role. Also included will be an update on recently acquired original Davenport cartoons, and of course Silverton’s annual Homage to its favorite son, the Homer Davenport Community Festival.

Frederick is the creator of The Annotated Cartoons by Davenport, an annotated edition of Davenport’s 1898 collection of cartoons, as well as Silverton from Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. He also compiled the extensive social commentary of The Collected Works of T.W. Davenport, comprising Homer’s Oregon pioneer politician father’s writings from the Oregon Historical Quarterly. Most recently, he created an annotated edition of Davenport’s second cartoon collection, The Dollar or the Man, published in 1900. Copies of all four books will be available for purchase. Additionally, he is continuing work on a video documentary of Davenport’s life and times.

The Silver Falls Public Library is located at 410 South Water Street, in Silverton. Doors open at 12:00 p.m. with the presentation starting shortly after. Free and all ages are welcome!

Look Who’s Coming

A Cartoon History of Roosevelt's Career

Several years ago, I encountered a book from 1910 titled “A Cartoon History of Roosevelt’s Career” by Albert Shaw. Knowing how many of Davenport’s cartoons depicted Colonel Roosevelt, I naturally assumed that it would contain at least a couple. There turned out to be a total of ten Davenport cartoons. Several with Uncle Sam, including the famous “He’s Good Enough for Me” piece. And after he left Hearst’s employ, he never used the “Rough Rider” trope employed by many of his contemporaries.

But one cartoon attracted my attention more than any other, as it did not include Roosevelt at all. It showed a barren leafless tree, filled up with a multitude of different African animals. A monkey with a ladder running towards the tree was the only critter left on the ground. The caption was “HIST! Looks Who’s Coming.” It was published in the New York Mail on March 12, 1909, and was referencing Roosevelt’s much publicized post-presidential extended safari to Africa.

The detail of the animals was quite striking (below). Each could easily be identified with its real-life counter parts, (aside from the three monkeys, who were depicted anthropomorphically). Like so many of Davenport’s originals, its fate was unknown.

Until I received and email from Tania from the Digital History Projects Staff of the Oregon Historical Society. She had been contacted by a gentleman from South Carolina that wanted to contact any Davenport family members to see if he could sell the original of that very same piece. He had financial issues, and decided to sell the original, but wanted to contact the family first. I put him in contact with Homer Davenport’s great-granddaughter, Jill, who resides in Seattle. It turned out that it had a hand-written dedication by Homer to his eldest daughter Mildred, Jill’s grandmother. The inscription for this piece reads:

“To my Best Girl, my darling Mildred, that she may ever fight against the wanton slaughter of animals is the hope of her father.” [Signed] Homer Davenport, N.Y. March 22, 1909. Just ten days after it was published. Despite the implied “wanton slaughter” comment, Homer and Colonel Roosevelt remained close friends until his death in 1912. The asking price was too much for them, so they passed. I made a counter offer myself, but he had found another collector from Boston who agreed to the original price.

Several months later, I received an email from the South Carolinian, who recounted how the other collector turned out to be a scam artist, and he had to have law enforcement involved to get the cartoon back. He asked if I was still interested, and within a week, the 3 by 2-and-a-half foot framed “Look Who’s Coming” arrived in Silverton! It joins the other Davenport originals in the collection of the Silverton Country History Museum.

Researching this cartoon revealed the following statement made by Davenport in reply to what he considered to be his best work:

“There was a time when I thought ‘He’s Good Enough for Me’ was the best thing I ever drew, but while it may be the most widely circulated cartoon ever printed, owing to the poster work it served for the Republican National Committee, yet it was not a great cartoon by any means. At other times I think some of the cartoons of mine used in the 1897 campaign were prize winners, and still at other times I think some of the reform cartoons are superior to any others of my creation. So it goes. However, I take a chance and send you what I now consider my best bit of work, ‘See Who’s Coming,’ printed on the day Roosevelt sailed for Africa. I may change my mind next week, but this one right now appeals more strongly to me than does any other one I ever have made.” – September 12, 1909

Additionally, I stumbled upon this short, 30 second animated film, (below) on the Library of Congress website which was obviously inspired by this very same cartoon! In it, the monkey on the ground jumps up and down excitedly, and runs up the tree, as a smallish dot appears in the distance, growing closer. It finally comes up over the hill as a smiling “Teddy Roosevelt” with a rifle. The animator is unknown and lost to history. This was less than five years before Winsor McCay’s ground-breaking 1914 hand-drawn animated classic, “Gertie the Dinosaur.”

The Real Dope on Goldberg

It’s always fun to discover a previously unknown piece by Davenport. Case in point, is this 1909 editorial extolling the greatness of the then-young Rube Goldberg. He would of course go on to a long career, known mainly for his complex devices designed to perform mundane tasks. Before that, he became known for his “Foolish Questions” series, where an observer asks an oblivious question with an obvious answer, (a predecessor to Al Jafee’s “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” in Mad Magazine.) This article comes to us courtesy Cartoon Historian Paul Tumey, author of “Screwball! The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny” (IDW Library of American Comics, 2018), and contributor to “The Art of Rube Goldberg” (Abrams ComicArts 2014). – Editor.

Tells How the Young Artist Worked on The Bulletin
By Homer Davenport

Rube Goldberg

San Francisco Bulletin – January 15, 1909: While I was being shaved the other day, the barber asked me to tell him something about Goldberg, the Evening Mail’s sporting page cartoonist. He said a lot of his friends were keeping a scrapbook of his drawing and articles. The barber was so carried away talking about his favorite caricaturist that he scraped for five minutes in the same place, leaving a very tender spot. He said hosts of people were seeking knowledge about this man who has broken in on the New York reading public with such a sparkling crash.

After my jaw healed I decided to supply some real information regarding a real humorist. Reuben Goldberg was born in San Francisco, California about twenty-five years ago, of Jewish parents. Like all of his profession, he began drawing before he began to read. Coming of a race of people that are not well represented in poorhouses, his parents were naturally anxious about his business career, and grew especially nervous when they heard him say he wanted to be an artist. His father told him artists were as a rule poor and inclined to be drunken and cheap.

He suggested to his boy that he be a mining engineer, as the youngster was good in arithmetic. Goldberg reluctantly entered the University of California and finished the four-year mining engineering course in three years. He finally landed in the City Hall at $100 per month, an assistant to the City Engineer. But his heart was not in his work, and he was continually drawing and dreaming. He finally left his position in the City Hall and took a position as cartoonist on the Chronicle at less than half the salary he got as a city engineer.

He use to get up at daylight and walk back and forth in a small park near his house trying to think of an idea for a comic or a cartoon. His work was a hit from the first. What he wanted was a position on The Bulletin, and he finally got it.

On The Bulletin Goldberg commenced to stir up even a bigger dust by even harder work. The above sketch shows him in his shirt sleeves, for he is in his element in this rig. He is an incessant worker.

San Francisco has turned out a great many clever caricaturists and comic artists. Several have attracted great attention in New York City, but though Goldberg is the most recent of the many from the Golden Gate, he has made as big a hit as any.

Mr. Goldberg is a young man bordering on good looks, standing about five feet ten, well built for an artist, with plenty of pluck. I admire him for his pluck as well as for his ideas and drawings. Some foolish persons suggested to him when he landed here from the Coast that his name Goldberg was against him as an artist–for a clothier it would be great, but in art it would hold him back years. He informed this philosopher that he wasn’t ashamed of his name; that it had never held him back in San Francisco, and that he didn’t believe it would in New York. If it did, all right–his name was Goldberg.

Mr. Goldberg is a very happy boy. His head works well, and his ability to portray his weird conceptions is very striking. He has never studied art; caricaturists don’t: they are born, not taught. I sometimes wonder if a person with any real knowledge of anatomy of a horse, for instance, could draw as funny a horse as does Goldberg. Hardly less funny than his horses are the noses he sets on the faces of people he draws. But funniest of all are the questions and answers of these bald-headed and hump-back and knock-kneed people. What a simple creation is a parody, and what a world of reality is there in Goldberg’s Foolish Question series!

I should say that with Mr. Goldberg’s ability for work and his fund of humor ever growing he will develop for many years to come.

Robert Crumb Weighs In

In the fall of 2016, I obtained the mailing address for Robert Crumb, cartoonist and 78rpm record collector. At the time, I decided to send him a copy of my book “The Annotated Cartoons by Davenport.” About a month later I received a hand-written reply, with Xeroxed copies of several Thomas Nast cartoons:

December 15, 2016


R. Crumb. Photo by Niccolò CarantiI really enjoyed receiving the book of Homer Davenport cartoons. Thanks so much! I had seen a few of his cartoons before. His work is exceptionally EXPRESSIONISTIC for the 1890s, something a little crazy about it. I also appreciate very much the short biographies and photos of the various political personalities that Davenport caricatured. Not only does this information help us to understand what Davenport is up to, but opens up the world of America in the 1890s for us to look at. That era was uncannily similar to our own in that an obscene level of wealth existed in contrast to most people’s economic status, and these extremely wealthy men had a powerful hold on politicians. I also read somewhere that around 1900 J. Pierpont Morgan more or less OWNED the United States.

Davenport was not the master cross hatcher that Thomas Nast was. Nast is my main man for cross hatching technique, but in fact it was the ENGRAVER who did the final line work on almost all Nast’s cartoons up to somewhere in the late 1880s when photo offset printing took over from engraved or etched plates. So most of Nast’s work was engraved, and these humble workmen were only allowed to put their initials in an unobtrusive place on the finished engraving plates… SOMETIMES.

Do inform me if you get a second book out on Homer Davenport’s cartoons. I must have it!

R. Crumb

With the completion of the annotated edition of Davenport’s second book, “The Dollar or the Man?” I sent him a copy of that one as well. Shortly after he replied by email:

July 18, 2022


Received the book “The Dollar or the Man” yesterday, for which I thank you. I spent a long time looking at it. It’s so uncanny how relevant these cartoons are to our current predicament: the fat capitalists making Uncle Sam dance, shooting at his feet in a barroom — absolutely the case these days as well; “Who Should — Who Does — Pay the Taxes?” showing the robber barons pointing at a boney poor farmer and his son — still totally true. “Is the Old Man Reconciled to His Job Yet?,” showing “Dollar Mark” Hanna in his suit covered with dollar signs and the trusts giant looking on with satisfaction as Uncle Sam is washing windows… Absolutely still the case. Incredible, the staying power of this system of things!

John D. RockefellerI like very much that you included these texts from various sources with each cartoon. Rich background material to better understand Davenport’s message. It’s interesting to note the favorable biography of John D. Rockefeller that you got from Wikipedia. They make him out to be a great social benefactor. There’s only one sentence that mentions anything negative about him: “His company and business practices came under criticism, particularly in the writings of Ida Tarbell.” That’s it. In fact, Rockefeller was widely despised, even among the businessmen he dealt with. It was said of him — maybe I read it in Ida Tarbell’s excellent book, “The Rise of Standard Oil” — that he was ALL BUSINESS, had no hobbies or pleasurable pursuits, always had his nose in the accounting books. He supported the use of internal combustion engines over other kinds of automobile engines (steam, electric) as it vastly expanded the oil industry. He funded the Rockefeller Institute that pushed hard for synthetic pharmaceuticals as the base of medical treatments, to expand his chemical industries, a spin-off of oil refining. His father was a 19th Century itinerant snake-oil salesman, pitching a cure-all that was mostly refined petrol.

John D. Rockefeller’s influence on America and the world is still ongoing. Not only did he push our dependence on petroleum and its by-products, he also had a HUGE effect on the science and practice of medicine through the Rockefeller Institute. Some historians couch this influence as a good thing, asserting that Rockefeller used his wealth to advance and improve medicine and healthcare in the U.S.A., improved medical schooling, closing down low grade medical schools throughout the country. I’m not so sure it was all to the good. John D. was ALL BUSINESS. He helped to bring about our monolithic pharmaceutical industry and helped to make practicing physicians a privileged, elite, highly paid priesthood. Rockefeller was a cold-blooded capitalist. Not at all sure that he had the well-being of the “common people” at heart. The only things I’ve seen written about the influence of Rockefeller have all been positive, as if the authors were receiving payment from one of the many institutions and organizations funded by Rockefeller money. Don’t know of any really critical history of what came after the period described by Ida Tarbell. The power of private wealth is alive and well in our time.

The founders of American industrial capitalism put in place a political system in which big business and high finance were all powerful, and this system is still firmly in place to this day! Communism, Socialism, came and went, rose up and was beaten back down over and over.

I just finished reading “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” by Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum. Scary stuff.

Thanks again for the book. I hope it sells well. Americans need to see this, to understand how deeply embedded this unfair system is.

R. Crumb

The Dollar or the Man?

Introduction to the Annotated Edition

The Dollar or the Man? The Issue of To-Day, Homer Davenport’s second published cartoon collection after Cartoons by Davenport in 1897, we see a physically smaller book, with less cartoons; fifty-four compared to the eighty-four of the previous collection, which was released as a large “coffee-table” sized bound portfolio measuring 11 by 17 inches. It is also unique in that it was a collaboration with Horace L. Traubel, who curated the selection of images used, as well as providing a 3000 word introduction. Traubel’s legacy includes being the biographer of American poet Walt Whitman, and one who supported a host of what we would today term “left-wing” causes and people.

Unlike the previous collection, the curated cartoons Traubel chose were focused on the monopolistic corporate trusts, and the increasing disparity between the few rich and the multitudes of the poor. They all date from 1898 through 1900, ending after the Presidential election in November. Republican President William McKinley is featured heavily, as is his “henchman” Senator Marcus Alonzo “Dollar Mark” Hanna.

And a new character was introduced by Davenport: The “Trust Brute,” being a personification of the corporate trusts that took root during the Gilded Age. Portrayed as a bearded, hulking muscular brute, with a primitive grass kilt, and often touting either a whip or club. Davenport freely cloned the Brute to represent different trusts: Oil, Sugar, Steel, etc. The sequential order of the cartoons is the same as Traubel’s original curation, with one exception: I placed the introductory cartoon of the Trust Brute as the first cartoon.

The oligarchs of the day, are easily recognized and of course the familiar bulbous form of “Dollar Mark Hanna” returns, pictured as the controlling entity of the McKinley administration. Davenport’s various victims are easily recognized, which frankly assisted in the research of these images: They looked like their photographs available online via a number of digital archives.

Davenport’s “common folk” are pictured as hard-working, yet incredibly emaciated. Children appear as skinny, pathetic waifs with parents to match. Their clothes are torn and tattered, often pictured begging the Trust Brute and Dollar-Mark Hanna for some simple relief.

The obvious purpose of this publication was political. Specifically with a Democratic bias, engineered to support William Jennings Bryan’s second run for President against the re-election of McKinley. What is almost missing, was Davenport’s Democratic foil from the previous collection, Tammany Hall and its political boss Richard Croker. The “Tammany Tiger” does appear in one of the cartoons, but in a “positive” role. During this campaign, both Hearst and Croker supported the democratic ticket of Bryan and his running mate Adlai Stevenson, so somewhat of a truce appears to have occurred, at least in regards to the cartoons in this collection.

The issues of the campaign included the bimetallism vs. gold standard of 1896, but also the growth of international imperialism, corporate monopolies, and increased societal inequalities. Between both of Davenport’s cartoon collections, was the Spanish American War, which resulted in the defeat of Spain, and the acquisition by the United States of many of its former colonies. A war that initially had the support of both the Republicans and Democrats to bring freedom to those places, switched when the Administration decided that a policy of “benevolent assimilation” was more profitable. Filipino “Freedom Fighters” were re-branded “Insurgents” as the occupying forces took control. Puerto Rico likewise was “kept” as part of the spoils of war. Cuba eventually was returned to the locals, with U.S. interests baked into their country, in ways that persist to this day.

Owing to the fact that this book was released several months before the assassination of President McKinley by an anarchist, physical copies are extremely rare. Since McKinley and his administration were the main targets of the work, his death and public sentiment no doubt cut into book sales. Nevertheless, McKinley’s death, and the rise of President Theodore Roosevelt signaled a shift from the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era, where many of the issues presented in this publication were somewhat addressed.

Ironically, Davenport left Hearst’s employ in 1904, in support of the progressive Republicans, led by President Roosevelt. Indeed, after a rocky start, Homer and the Colonel became fast friends, sharing a common interest in Arabian horses.

While the original version of this volume is available digitally, I was able to obtain several hard copy originals that I used to digitize the images, and prepare them for republication. The horizontal format of the original has been retained, with the cartoons on the right, and a relevant annotation on the left under the original captions.

For this annotated collection, I have attempted to use as many period sources as possible. Of particular usefulness was The Tammany Times, from GoogleBooks. This was an effervescent weekly newspaper published by the Tammany Hall democratic machine in New York City.

Other sources included both Republican and other Democratic—usually very biased—periodicals and newspaper accounts with similar chronological ties to the images. And as is the case of these sorts of projects, I learned quite a bit myself. Mainly that today’s hyper partisan media environment is by no means new. The election antics of 1900 proved that this is a long American tradition. Indeed, the “Dollar or the Man?” could well be the issue for our times!

Gus Frederick – Silverton, Oregon

The Annotated Dollar or the Man is available from Liberal University Press (see link on the upper-right side bar), or in Silverton from the Silverton Country Historical Society. Additional venues will be added as they become available.

Homer’s Statue

Homer C. DavenportAfter Homer C. Davenport passed away in 1912, a group of his friends pursued the notion of honoring Oregon’s first media superstar with a suitable monument. A statue was proposed, possibly due to the fact that Davenport’s half-sister Adelaide was an up and coming sculptor herself. A proposal was put forth for an integrated statue and fountain, to be placed in downtown Silverton. Adda, as she was known completed a bust of her famous brother, and then contacted one of Homer’s artist friends, the noted sculptor S.J. Farnham. Farnham’s small “sketch” of the final design is shown here (right).

Sally James Farnham (1869-1943) is arguably best known today for her Simon Bolivar monument in New York’s Central Park. Yet she had a long career producing a wide-range of sculpture ranging from portraits, trophies, medals, plaques and various studio works. Special care has been taken in highlighting works not often associated with Farnham studio. Though “untrained” in her craft technically, she achieved the acclaim and notoriety that few “trained” artists ever achieve. – From the Sally James Farnham Website

Davenport met Farnham through their mutual friend Frederic Remington, and Homer’s later partner Zadah Reakirt. All four also shared a love of Arabian horses, and were frequent guests at Red Gables, the Davenport Farm in Morris Plains, N.J. Adda no doubt met Farnham there, and established a connection and friendship that remained for years.

The Davenport Statue campaign was launched in 1914, several years after Homer’s passing, and was gathering steam when World War I intervened. After the war, the momentum for the statue was lost, so that by the time the Twenties roared onto the scene, there were only sufficient funds to construct a robust marble marker instead of the originally proposed statue and fountain. This was done, and included an engraving of the cartoon Davenport drew after his father passed away in 1911.

Over the years, Davenport’s memory faded from view. But the idea of a statue keeps coming up. As new generations discover the life and times of Homer Davenport, maybe the time is once again ripe to float that notion! And now with the City of Silverton’s acquisition of the Eugene Field School site, maybe that time has come! A proposal will be made at the various community meetings planned around the new development. Stay tuned!

R.C. Harvey: A Nice Notice

Insider's History of Cartooning

Update: We were greatly saddened to hear about the passing of Bob Harvey on July 7. He will be greatly missed. After years of urging me to complete the annotated edition of “The Dollar or the Man,” I finally completed it, and sent him a copy. He immediately wrote up a review, that was posted on the American Association or Editorial Cartoonist site. It may well have been his last review.

Editor’s Note: The National Cartoonists Society (NCS) recently held their annual convention in Portland, Oregon just North of Silverton. The weekend long affair for the most part was private, with strict security measures designed to keep the over zealous fan base at bay. The one exception was an open Sunday morning “Signing Event” where the cartoonists and authors offered their autographed wares for sale. As fellow Silvertonian Bob Foster was autographing my copies of his Moose series, I noticed a gentleman peddling a book entitled Insider Histories of Cartooning at the same table. This got my attention.

Turned out another Bob! Specifically R.C. Harvey, noted cartoon historian and “girlie” cartoonist. I quickly pulled out the bucks and set Mr. Harvey to work autographing his book, when he asked me how to spell my name. In reply, I showed him a copy of Annotated Cartoons By Davenport, and pointed. He quickly handed me back my money and offered to trade! Best deal I’ve made in years. I went to his Website and signed up for his Rants & Raves monthly column on Cartoon happenings. In his recap of the NCS event, he wrote the following nice book review! Reprinted with permission.

Cartoonists Land in Portlandia – The National Cartoonists Society’s Reubens Weekend

Excerpt: “…this year’s signing event will doubtless change all that. It was a remarkably successful event with lots of civilians thronging the room and buying books and sketches … But the big event for me was when a bearded Gus Frederick wandered by and was about to buy a book when I noticed he had a book about Homer Davenport under his arm. Davenport is one of the giants of editorial cartooning in the first decade of the 20th century, but virtually nothing has been written about him. Frederick’s book reprints a 1897 book of Davenport cartoons with annotations that explain their significances; I’ve reviewed the book at greater length down the Scroll. Seizing upon this find, I quickly traded Frederick a copy of my Insider Histories of Cartooning for a copy of his Davenport. And a good time was had by all…”


Book Reviews
R.C. Harvey – Critiques & Crotchets
The Annotated Cartoons By Homer C. Davenport
Researched and compiled by Gus Frederick
200 8×10.5-inch pages, b/w; 2013 Liberal University Press paperback, $20

DAVENPORT is one of the great names in American editorial cartooning, but almost nothing has been written about him—nothing, at least, approaching the scholarship that Frederick displays in this volume. Born in 1867, Davenport grew up drawing all the time near Silverton, Oregon, and eventually, after numerous false starts, he wound up cartooning in San Francisco for the Chronicle, until William Randolph Hearst finally hired Davenport for his Examiner by tripling his Chronicle salary.

Davenport was part of Hearst’s team that took over the New York Journal in 1895 and helped launch “yellow journalism” in competition with Pulitzer’s New York World. Davenport became famous during the presidential contest of 1896, depicting candidate William McKinley’s manager, wealthy industrialist Marcus Hanna, wearing “plutocratic plaid” with a tiny dollar sign in each square, accurately pinpointing the real issues and interests of the campaign. The cartoonist’s work was fierce enough on politicians that it inspired a failed anti-cartoon bill in the New York State Assembly. In 1904, one of his cartoons of Uncle Sam with his hand on the shoulder of Teddy Roosevelt is said by many to have enabled TR’s election. Davenport also bred American-born Arabian horses and wrote a book about it.

On April 13, 1912, Davenport was sent to illustrate the sinking of the Titanic. He contracted pneumonia waiting to interview the survivors and died on May 2.

Two volumes of his cartoons were published during his lifetime—Cartoons by Davenport in 1897 and The Dollar or the Man in 1900. He wrote an autobiography, focusing on his youth in beloved Silverton, The Country Boy (1910). The only biography I know of is Homer Davenport of Silverton: Life of a Great Cartoonist by Leland Huot and Alfred Powers (West Shore Press, 1973), which is a fairly relaxed and casual anecdotal account of his life, mostly chronological but not entirely. Almost half of its 400-plus pages are pictures—photos of Silverton and elsewhere and Davenport’s cartoons. The quality of reproduction is, however, poor. In Frederick’s book, the pictures are superbly reproduced, the finest lines meticulously captured.

In reprinting the 1897 volume of cartoons with extensive annotation, Frederick has performed a monumental service for all students of editorial cartooning in America. The original book printed only cartoons with no explanation. Herein, each cartoon, all from 1895-1898, gets a full page, and facing it is a page of text, explaining who the victims of Davenport’s pen are and what their significance is at the time. Frederick told me he is at work annotating the 1900 [The Dollar or the Man] collection.

Only a few of the cartoons consist of metaphorical messages in the modern manner; most are caricatures that exaggerate and distort their victim’s features, making them all seem highly questionable persons. I’m posting only a few hereabouts, including Davenport’s 1896 portrait of his boss, W.R. [Hearst] himself—a friendly, even complimentary, picture that may well be the most familiar of Davenport’s works: it shows up often in histories of journalism.

(Click Thumbnail for More Detail—Close the Window to Return)
R.C. Davenport Illustrations Panel 1 R.C. Davenport Illustrations Panel 1 R.C. Davenport Illustrations Panel 1 R.C. Davenport Illustrations Panel 1

—Review by R.C. Harvey in Rants & Raves, his monthly online magazine of comics news and reviews, cartooning history and lore, at RCHarvey.com

The City’s Cartoons

Mary Delle & Alice Davenport

In the early 1960s, Homer Davenport’s sisters, Alice Davenport Bernard and Mary Delle Davenport Havens (right), gifted to the citizens of Silverton a number of original political cartoons, photographs and other artifacts from their famous brother. The cartoons have been on display in City Hall for decades, since they were donated to the Silverton Library, then part of the City of Silverton.

Main Street Coffee and Bistro in partnership with the City of Silverton will host a special exhibition of these eight original Davenport cartoons. The cartoons, dating from 1894 through 1904, will be displayed the upstairs gallery in the newly remodeled Wolf Building, located at 201 East Main Street, in Silverton Historic downtown core. All of the City Cartoons along with annotated descriptions will allow visitors to examine up close and personal, the artwork of Oregon’s First Media Super Star. The eight cartoons set to be displayed cover a period of time from 1894 through 1908.

The oldest piece, is a portrait of Davenport’s father, Timothy, (left). It includes the note, “Portrait of My Father, October 6, 1894.” At this period of time, Davenport was firmly established with Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner, and was no doubt home visiting.

The next earliest, is an image of lame-duck president Grover Cleveland, sitting secure at work, with a Tammany Tiger-skin rug under his chair, being confronted by an old begger. A partial penciled-in title starts “To Busy…” Owing to Homer’s notoriously bad spelling, it most likely meant “TOO busy…” Probably done in late 1895 or early 1896.

Another Tammany-tied cartoon from around 1896 features Tammany Hall Boss Richard Croker, with his bags packed and ready to head off to his Irish estate, while stuffing the Tammany Tiger up his sleeve…

“Now for Prosperity” features House Speaker Thomas Reed (R-ME) and Congressman Nelson Dingly (R-ME) “shake down” Uncle Sam for the benefit of the corporate trusts. This cartoon was included in Davenport 1897 collection “Cartoons by Davenport.”

“God’s in it. We’re in it. There’s money in it.” Here we see Dollar Mark Hanna and the Trust Brute mugging a Cuban. From Davenport’s second published collection, “The Dollar or the Man?” published in 1899.

Wolf Building Display

The final two cartoons date from around 1904, during Davenport’s post-Hearst period. Both feature person hand-written notes dated August 30, 1908. These he apparently gifted to Dr. Charles H. Brewer, an Oregon doctor and his wife Nettie Mae Brewer, during a visit with Homer, most likely in New Jersey. Mrs Brewer, (formerly Nettie Mae Munkers) was a school mate of Homer’s (albeit in an earlier grade level).

One features a ghostly Lincoln with his hand on old man’s shoulder, holding a newspaper reading “Parker’s Letter – I Will Revoke.” This is in reference to 1904 Democratic Presidential candidate Judge Parker, who vowed to revoke a pension extension passed as an executive order by President Roosevelt for Civil War veterans. The hand-written inscription says: “To Mrs. Dr. Brewer, who as a girl was my school mate. Me at one end of the classroom, and she at the other. (Those that know me will know which end I was). It’s with the greatest happiness that I give her this cartoon which bears a likeness of my father, he of whom all Silvertonians—yea Oregonians loved. [signed] HCD. Aug 30, 1908” Homer often used people he knew as models.

President Roosevelt on a stage with audience, handing his Message to Congress, over to House Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon (R-IL). The hand-written inscription says: “To my dear friends Dr. and Mrs. Brewer who have made me so happy with just a visit, but after all, what is greater than a visit between old friends? Yours with Love, [signed] HCD. Aug 30, 1908”

The final image is a self-portrait of the artist, possibly done during the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition, owing to the appearance.

Eventually all of these pieces need to be re-framed in an archival manner to ensure their preservation for
the decades to come. Here is your chance to help the Homer Festival at the same time as helping to preserve history. By donating to the Davenport Cartoon Re-framing Fund, you will get the same tax-deduction as well as the knowledge that you have personally helped keep Davenport’s art safe and secure for future generations to enjoy. Plus you will be the first in line to view these restored pieces, when they are eventually displayed to the public.

Ask your Homer Day Contact about the Cartoon Re-framing Fund!

The Brooklyn Citizen: 1896

Arthur E. Jameson

Arthur E. Jameson

On Sunday, October 25, 1896, just a bit over a week before Election day, The Brooklyn Citizen, one of many daily newspapers in New York City, ran a short biographic sketch on Political cartoonist Homer Davenport. This piece ran just one year after Davenport arrived in the Big Apple after his boss William Randolph Hearst’s acquired the New York Journal.

This also appears to be the earliest biographical piece about Davenport to be published. There were many more over the next decade. It was written by Arthur E. Jameson (1872-1957), a fellow Hearst comic artist. At the time of the article, he had himself embarked in what would be a long career with Hearst and Company, eventually specializing in what would be now termed graphic novels. His work in fact predates a style that would become popular by later artist’s like Hal Foster and his Prince Valiant strip.

Why he would write a piece in a non-Hearst paper, seems like a contradiction, but no doubt was part of Hearst’s well-known approach to self-promotion. The inclusion of an image of John M. Palmer the “Gold Democratic Candidate” for President was interesting as well, since Hearst openly supported William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic candidate, who espoused a “bimetal” approach using both gold and silver as an economic base.

The page from which this article was reproduced, had these Davenport caricatures sprinkled throughout the page, even though the article on Davenport was only a dozen or so column inches on the upper left corner of the page. The paper was donated to the Silverton Country Historical Society by the Digerness family, whose ancestors include another talented Silverton cartoonist, the late Knute Digerness.

Work of a Cartoonist
Influence of the Pencil in Line with the Pen
The Varied Career of One
By Arthur E. Jameson

Dollar Mark Hanna and McKinleyPublic interest has been so universally centered in the political outlook, and in the principals who are to engage in the coming battle, that the men who are really to shape their destiny have been overlooked. The writers and artists representing some of the largest newspapers in the country form no small part of the large army of men which is to comprise the opposing forces. Among them are men who have achieved reputation and fame in their respective capacities, and are the chosen ones of their profession. They are as prominent in the newspaper field as are the political figureheads to the laity, and what they will accomplish during the campaign will be watched as carefully by the interested public as by the politicians themselves.

One of the men who will do much to shape and disfigure the hopes of the political aspirants is Homer C. Davenport, of the New York Journal. Since the time of Nast there is no man who has jumped so suddenly into prominence in the field of caricature. Within four years he has acquired a reputation which extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and his original drawings adorn the sanctums of most of the prominent politicians in the country. They watch his work as closely as Tweed and Blaine did that of Nast.

Of all the checkered careers to which a man can fall heir, his is the most versatile. He is probably one of the quaintest and most original characters to be found in the profession. His academy has been the practical school of observation, and there has been nothing for him to acquire but facility; the last was a natural inheritance.

It is hard to realize that a man who can now make political monarchs bend in fear and submission, has been a jockey, a waiter, an engine wiper, a clown, a fireman, and a steamboat stoker. But such is Mr. Davenport’s repertoire of accomplishments. They were not forced upon him through necessity, of course, for his father has always been in a position to help him. They were merely the result and deserts of his boyish waywardness and recklessness. He was always a source of constant worry and annoyance to his parents. When he ran away with a circus during harvest time his father’s hair, he says, first began to turn gray and Has been turning ever since until about five years ago. Then it began to return to its original color. It was the arrival of this circus which cut short his career at school, but his knowledge was afterwards acquired in the manner most self-made men boast of. He cares more for game roosters and bull pups than he does for books, and though he may not be able to quote Shakespeare or Byron, he can sign his name to as large a check as most learned pedagogues.

It is always interesting to know what event marks the inception of a successful career, and it seems odd that in Mr. Davenport’s case his first effort should have been at the expense of his long-suffering father. His younger sisters, possessing the same humorous instincts had plaited the fore-locks of their paternal ancestor’s hair while he was taking a nap, and had tied a red ribbon on it so that it resembled the topknot of a pickaninny. When he removed his hat later in the evening to introduce Governor Pennoyer to a large audience the red ribbon jumped out and stood straight up, to the intense amusement of the audience and the consternation of the principals. It was Homer’s first motif and the result was conspicuous for a day on the post office bulletin board.

Through a friend of his Mr. Davenport later got an offer from the Portland Oregonian to make advertising cuts. The first drawing was a stove, but the legs had such wiggle and the door such a mark that the advertiser refused to run his “ad” if the cut had to go with it. He was compelled to seek “green fields and pastures new” after this failure, and finally wound up in. San Francisco. An admiring friend introduced him to the art manager of the Examiner as “the greatest artist in the country.” The faces of those around him fell away into a peaceful smirk at this announcement and Homer thrust his precious samples through the linen of his coat. He was willing at that moment to go back to ploughing without complaint. But they gave him a trial at $10 per week with instructions not to be too original. When he eventually grew tired of copying A. B. Frost and drawing bridges and buildings it was the signal for his dismissal.

After a short stay on the Chronicle he went to Chicago, where he did some serious comic stuff for the Herald during the World’s Fair. Mr. Hearst of the Examiner returned from Europe about this time end noticing Davenport’s work, sent for him, He was given free scope at once, and his successful career dates from that period—-two and one-half years ago. When his fine page cartoon of Sam Rainey, the Tom Platt of the Pacific Coast, appeared, it set everybody wild. It was as big a hit to the West as was Gilmans’ celebrated drawing of Blaine, the tattooed man, and it was the political death of the great “boss.”

When Mr. Hearst bought the “Morning Journal he brought Mr. Davenport with him. The people realized his genius at once, and he soon created a stir in national politics. His “Eeny Meeny Miny Mo” cartoon was copied from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and when his drawing of Reed punching the bag, the famous Republican leader wrote and asked him for the original. His success was instantaneous.

Dollar Mark HannaBut since that time he has devoted most of his energies and wit and genius to the much-abused Mark Hanna. Indeed, Mr. Davenport has been as merciless in his attacks upon the stage manager and press agent of the Republican candidate that overtures have been made to have the cartoons stopped. The check suit with the dollar marks has wrought great havoc with “Mark” and has caused him many sleepless nights. But they still continue appear, and when the campaign is this check suit will pass into history and continue to haunt Mr. Hanna, as did the famous money bag face of old “Boss” Tweed.

It is scarcely credible to believe that this young genius had never earned a dollar from his pen five years ago. Although he is the same unassuming fellow who entered the Examiner office with his high-water pants and a seedy overcoat to cover up the patches, he is, of course, more metropolitan. But he possesses none of the vices which usually accrue from success. He never touches liquor or tobacco and has only hobby, as was said before, is keeping game chickens and bull pups. There is no more entertaining or original talker. His conversation is like his drawings—full of humor and lasting impressions. Everything he does is tinged with humor; he cannot it. If his drawings were only funny, Davenport could scarcely be less great; but they are full of serious thought and need no letter press to tell the story. No cartoonist can excel him in drawing, and when he introduces animals into his work he is superior to all. Before the national campaign is over he will have shattered many political aspirations beyond hope. Though he has already achieved much, he is only at the inception of his career.

How little the farmers thought when they used to laugh until their sides ached at his early sketches at Silverton, Oregon, that with as much ease he could make the whole world laugh or frown.

Arthur E. Jameson