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Charles Nelan

Charles Nelan (1858-1904) was a native of Akron, Ohio.  He was hired as the cartoonist for the Cleveland Press in 1888, and his work was soon distributed by the Scripps-McRae League.  He is considered the nation's first syndicated editorial cartoonist.  In 1897 Nelan began work at the New York Herald and the cartoons he drew for this newspaper during the Spanish-American War were compiled into his only book, Cartoons of our War with Spain.  He went to the Philadelphia North American in 1901 where his caricatures of Samuel Pennypacker motivated the Pennsylvania legislature to pass an anti-cartoon law.  Nelan was hired by the New York Globe in 1903, but illness forced him to retire shortly thereafter.


Self-caricature from Cartoons of Our War with Spain by Charles Nelan,  Stokes:  1898, frontispiece.  Richard Samuel West Collection [NC1429.N435A63 1898]


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"Before and after . . ." from Cartoons of Our War with Spain by Charles Nelan,  Stokes: 1898, frontispiece.  Richard Samuel West Collection [NC1429.N435A63 1898]

Although Nelan was generally supportive of the United States during the Spanish-American War, this cartoon reflects his concern about the country's expansionist policies.

"Uncle Sam--Now Let Some of the Other Fellows Invent Something" by Charles Nelan, New York Herald, January 9, 1898.  [AC AA2  2]

Color Sunday supplements were important weapons in the newspaper wars of the late nineteenth century and many featured somewhat jingoistic comments such as this page by Nelan.


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"Polly Got a Cracker" by Charles Nelan, Philadelphia North American May 16, 1903.  Richard Samuel West Collection [NC1429.N435A76 1903]            

Samuel Pennypacker was infuriated by Nelan's caricatures of him as a parrot because of their implication that he was the mouthpiece for his cousin, Republican U.S. Senator Matthew Quay.  Nelan comments in this cartoon on the public's indignation when Pennypacker ramrodded an anti-cartoon bill through the Pennsylvania legislature.


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