Political cartoons are unlike any other form of political commentary. Visual in nature, cartoons show altered physical traits and highlight minute details to make a specific point. With simple pen strokes, they foreshadow the future, poke fun at the past, and imply hidden motives in ways that elude written or spoken reporting. The result of this creative license is a unique historical perspective—entertaining, clever, and insightful.
The political cartoons in this exhibit, drawn by renowned cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman, illustrate the campaign process from the candidate’s decision to run for office to the ultimate outcome of the election. Although many political procedures have changed, these cartoons show that the political process has remained remarkably consistent; Berryman’s cartoons from the early 20th century remain relevant today.
Most of these cartoons appeared on the front page of Washington newspapers from 1898 through 1948. They are part of a collection of nearly 2,400 pen-and-ink drawings by Berryman. In 1992, in honor of former Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, the Charles Engelhard Foundation purchased the drawings and donated them to the U.S. Senate. This remarkable collection is now housed with the historical records of Congress in the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, DC.