"Bear and (All) for Bear"

March 4, 1882

Thomas Nast

"Bear and (All) for Bear"

Colonialism/Imperialism; Emperor Franz-Josef; Kaiser Wilhelm; Symbols, Russian Bear;

No 'People' indexed for this cartoon.

Austria; Germany; Russia;

Russian Man-Of-War Skobeleff. "I have one thing more to say to you, gentlemen; but allow me to exchange my beaker with wine for a tumbler with--blood; and I call upon you all to bear witness that neither I nor any one of us is or can be speaking on this occasion under any abnormal influence."

This Harper’s Weekly cartoon by Thomas Nast features General Mikhail Dmitriyevich Skobelev as a fearsome Russian bear, flanked by Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany (left) and Emperor Franz Josef of Austria (right).

Skobelev was an effective military leader in Russia’s policy of territorial expansion. He was instrumental in the Russian capture of the khanates of Kokand, Bokhara, and Khiva in central Asia (Turkistan). In February 1876, he was named as the first Russian governor of Kokand (renamed Fergana). During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, Skobelev fought on the European front, defeating the Turks in several key battles, including the capture of San Stefano, which forced Turkey to negotiate an armistice. He was called the "White General" for wearing a white uniform and riding a white horse on the battlefield. In 1880, he commanded the Russian campaign against the Turks in the area of the Caspian and Aral Seas. His ruthlessness was revealed in January 1881 when he ordered the entire male population of Göktepe (now Gökdepe) killed. He was recalled to Russia to command the Minsk Army Corps.

In early 1882, Skobelev make political speeches in Paris and Moscow, stridently advocating militant pan-Slavism: the unification of all Slavic peoples within the Russian empire, and their inevitable conflict with and defeat of the Germanic peoples. In this cartoon, that concept appears in the caption above the Bear Skobelev as "Re-Russianizing Russia." Underneath it, the Russian double-eagle devours the banners of Germany and Austria, while their emperors warily listen to Skobelev’s harangue. Since the Russian government had signed an alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1881, Skovelev’s statements contradicted official Russian policy. He was promptly recalled to the Russian capital of St. Petersburg, where he suffered a heart attack and died in June 1882.

Robert C. Kennedy

"Bear and (All) for Bear"
April 19, 2024

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