| History in a
Frameworks for America's Past
America's New Hat
This political cartoon was on the cover of the news magazine Puck in 1901, a few years after the Spanish-American War ended. Puck was a popular magazine, so it gives a good indication of the way many Americans felt about the changes brought about by that war.
How to interpret the cartoon
The female figure represents America. You can tell by her clothing, which has the red, white, and blue of the American flag. She is named Columbia, a name that long ago was a sort of poetic alternative name for America. (Think of our nation's capital, the District of Columbia.)
1. Look at, and then describe, Columbia's Easter Bonnet - America's fancy new hat. Be sure to tell what words are written on and around it. Scroll down to see a much larger copy of the drawing!
2. Look at, and then describe, the appearance of Columbia herself as she tries on her new hat. Be as specific and descriptive as you can - almost every detail is a visual comment.
3. What do you think the artist is saying about the way Americans felt about their new situation? Is the artist celebrating America's growing power in the world, or making fun of Americans, or doing a little of both?
Copyright 2009, 2016 by David Burns. All rights reserved. As a guide to the Virginia Standards of Learning, some pages necessarily include phrases or sentences from that document, which is available online from the Virginia Department of Education. The author's copyright extends to the original text and graphics, unique design and layout, and related material.