clifford k berryman


On January 8, 1790, President George Washington appeared before a joint session of Congress to deliver his annual message at Federal Hall in New York City. This speech, called his first annual message to Congress (which we now refer to as the State of the Union), was short—in fact, it remains the shortest one ever.

Second President John Adams followed suit and spoke before Congress. But the third President, Thomas Jefferson, set a new tradition when he sent his messages in writing and did not appear before Congress.

That precedent stuck until 1913, when President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress.

Before Wilson, the annual messages were mostly a report to Congress of the activities of the Executive branch. But after Wilson, and the increased attention the speech received, it became a launching pad for Presidential initiatives and was used to raise support for the President’s legislative agenda. Cartoonist Clifford Berryman captured former President Roosevelt’s chagrin at President Wilson’s appearance before Congress. Images:

President George Washington’s first Annual Message to Congress, January 8, 1790. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

“Now Why Didn’t I Think of That!” by Clifford K. Berryman, 4/8/1913. (National Archives Identifier 6011009)

Can you tell me who or what the small bear represents in the Uncle Sam/William Jennings Bryan political cartoon?

A question in reference to our post from October 18:

Untitled, 10/18/1915. Series: Berryman Political Cartoon Collection, 1896 - 1949. Record Group 46: Records of the U.S. Senate, 1789 - 2015

The answer on Teddy’s origins comes via our colleagues at @congressarchives, the custodial unit for the Berryman Cartoon series, in their recent post “Clifford Berryman and the Teddy Bear”:

Political cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman is credited with introducing the teddy bear into American vernacular after President Theodore Roosevelt famously refused to shoot an old, haggard bear during a hunting trip. Berryman changed the old bear into a cute, cuddly “teddy bear” – named for the President – and it became a common symbol in Berryman’s cartoon. The cartoon featured today shows a self-portrait of Berryman drawing his famous teddy bear in 1904.

The Center for Legislative Archives maintains over 2,400 original pen-and-ink Berryman cartoon. Learn more about Berryman and his drawings by visiting our online exhibit, Running for Office.