- Alternate Title:
- Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection
- Keppler, Joseph Ferdinand
- Other Creators:
- Posted Date:
- ID Number:
- File Name:
- 1900 - 1919
- Money & Finance
Politics & Government
- 29 x 47 (centimeters, height x width)
- This cartoon map was published eight weeks before the presidential election of 1904. It depicts "Standard Oil" as a great octopus spread out across the U.S., having strangled state capitals and the Congress in Washington, reaching out "Next" in an effort to seize the White House.
Theodore Roosevelt, seeking election on his own right after succeeding McKinley, was opposed by the Democratic nominee, Alton B. Parker, Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals. Roosevelt had established his credentials in fighting the monopolies, particularly by initiating and winning the landmark Northern Securities case against a massive proposed railroad merger backed by J.P. Morgan. Goodwin 2013, chs. 10, 14. Although Parker's views on anti-trust matters were close to those of Roosevelt, he was called "the chosen tool of Standard Oil" after the Democratic Convention in July when one of his principal backers, Senator Patrick McCarren of New York, was accused of being on the company's payroll. Debs 1908, 369.
The country was very much focused on the Standard Oil monopoly during the election campaign as a result of a series of detailed and widely-read exposés by Ida Tarbell, a leading muck-raking journalist of the time. Tarbell's articles had been serialized in McClure's Magazine beginning in 1903 and appeared in book form in 1904. See generally Goodwin 2013, ch. 11. Her work concluded that "the ascendancy of the company was aided at every stage by discriminatory railroad rates and illegal tactics - bribery, fraud, criminal underselling, and intimidation.” Ibid. 336. She closed with an admonition: "And what are we going to do about it? For it is OUR business, we, the people of the United States, and nobody else, must cure whatever is wrong in the industrial situation, typified by this narrative of the growth of the Standard Oil Company.” Ibid. 338-39. (Interestingly, Tarbell herself had often referred to Standard Oil as an octopus in her personal correspondence. Ibid. 336, 442.)
Roosevelt won reelection in 1904 in a landslide, with a popular majority of 56 to 37 percent. In November 1906, his administration brought a massive antitrust suit against Standard Oil under the Sherman Act of 1890. The government won in the trial court, and in May 1911, the Supreme Court upheld the trial court's decision and ordered Standard Oil dissolved.
The octopus is a persistent trope in persuasive cartography. It first appeared in Frederick Rose's "Serio-Comic War Map For The Year 1877," ID #2272, about the Russo-Turkish War. "Once Fred W. Rose had created the 'Octopus' map of Europe, it proved difficult to rid propaganda maps of them." Barber 2010, 164. "The prevalence of the octopus motif in later maps suggests that the octopus also spoke to humanity's primeval fears, evoking a terrifying and mysterious creature from the depths (the dark outer places of the world) that convincingly conjured a sense of limitless evil." Baynton-Williams 2015, 180.
The collection includes numerous maps - from Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Latin America, the Netherlands and the U.S. - employing the octopus motif. (Search > “octopus”.) Many of these relate to imperialism and war, from 1877 to the Cold War. Others attack social and political targets, including a "reactionary" journalist, the Standard Oil monopoly, “Landlordism,” mail order houses, Jews and Mormons.
For further information on the Collector’s Notes and a Feedback/Contact Link, see https://persuasivemaps.library.cornell.edu/content/about-collection-personal-statement and https://persuasivemaps.library.cornell.edu/content/feedback-and-contact
- Puck Magazine, September 7, 1904
- Private Collection of PJ Mode
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