Matters of Education

Learning Happens Everywhere

No Joke: The Value of Political Cartoons

Length of Time:   30-45 Minutes


Cartoons are highly effective ways to convey an opinion. In some cases, they become part of our lexicon. With an expanding electorate, often they were deployed to sway voters through emotional appeal. But one thing is certain—they were rarely something to joke about. Use this lesson to supplement your regular curriculum materials in a US History Survey Course.

Essential Questions

How have cartoons conveyed and even influenced political discourse in American history?

Common Core Standards

English and Language Arts, Grades 11 and 12, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

RI.11-12.9. Analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.


English/Language Arts; History/Social Studies, Grades 9-12

Key Ideas and Details

RH.9-10-11-12.2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

RH.9-12.7. Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Content Standards

US History 1: The Revolution through Reconstruction, 1763-1877

The Formation and Framework of American Democracy

Political Democratization, 1800-1860

Civil War and Reconstruction

US History 2: Reconstruction to the Present, 1877-Present

The Age of Reform, 1900-1940

Cold War America at Home, 1945-1980

Contemporary America, 1980-Present

American Government Elective