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Interpreting the Evidence

Appropriation Cartoon

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Communication
    Education
    World War I

  • Primary Source Types:

    Political Cartoon

  • Regions:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Appropriation Cartoon, December 11, 1920 in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Appropriation Cartoon, December 11, 1920 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
"The Appropriation Pie", political cartoon was distributed by the American Union Against Militarism and published on December 11, 1920. In addition to the cartoon is an analysis of U.S. appropriations in 1920 by Dr. Edward B. Rosa of the U.S. Bureau of Standards.
Historical Context
Appropriations are public funds set aside for a specific purpose. As indicated by this cartoon, appropriation categories can include national defense, war funding, education, and numerous other societal and governmental necessities. Senators and Representatives introduce appropriation bills to suggest the assignment of a specific amount of money to a specific purpose. The Senate and House of Representatives must then vote on and agree to the bill before the money is distributed.
In 1920, the United States had just ended an expensive involvement in World War I. The country was about to enter an era of overwhelming prosperity and excessive wealth. This cartoon indicates how some citizens felt about the appropriation of most of the federal money to fighting wars.
Essential Question
Why do citizens oppose war?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main of idea and identify the main goal of this cartoon.
Historical Challenges
How much did the future wars of the 20th century cost the United States? How much do current global conflicts cost the U.S.? How does current war spending compare to the amount suggested for future wars by the artist?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Research the current federal budget. Use the dollar amounts to determine the percentage for each appropriation category present in the budget.
English Language Arts: Research the current appropriation bill under consideration by the House or Senate. Write a letter to your Representative of Senator expressing your support or opposition to the amount of funds being allocated to this category. Be sure to include factual information and sound reasoning for your opinion.