Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Illustrations from "Visualized American Government"

"Visualized American Government: Principles and Problems" by Philip Dorf and Arnold J. Zurcher (editor) was published in 1936 by the Oxford Book Company. What caught my eye in this civics text were the numerous illustrations. The drawings hold interest on their own merits, but they also provide a clear take on key concepts and issues in the Constitution and the running of the United States government. As Dorf writes in the preface (penned in September 1936):
At no other time in our history has government and its problems evoked more widespread and more sustained interest; for never before in our history have the activities of government affected so many of our people in so many different and so many vital ways.1 Too frequently the study of government has been associated with a weary memorization of definitions and a dreary enumeration of the functions of government agencies. ... "Visualized American Government" is designed for students (and adult citizens) who desire a comprehensive and up-to-date survey of the spirit, mechanics and problems of American government. ... A considerable number of original cartoon-illustrations2 especially prepared for this book provide a graphic interpretation of important concepts and problems.
Here are some of those eye-catching cartoon-illustrations:

"We must never forget that it is a Constitution we are expounding ... a Constitution intended to endure for ages to come and consequently to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs." -- John Marshall

"While emergency does not create power, emergency may furnish the occasion for the exercise of power." -- Chief Justice Hughes

"The Social Security Act ... is intended to remove the fear of poverty during unemployment and fear of destitution in old age which for generations have constantly hung over the heads of millions of American wage-earners." -- John G. Winant, Chairman Social Security Board

1. And, just think, this was decades before Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, the Tea Party, the global warming debate, The Daily Show, Ben Bernanke, Goldman Sachs, Snyder v. Phelps, the Wisconsin protests, and the war on terror.
2. Curiously, the name of the illustrator does not appear anywhere in the book (to the best of my knowledge).

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