The first 37 presidents as drawn by New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams in 1972

This past August, almost six months ago now, a friend and I visited the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Upper Manhattan. Among other things, on display at the time was an exhibit of the works of cartoonist Charles Addams. The artist was the originator of The Addams Family, which he based on his real life family much in the way Matt Groening later based The Simpsons on his own family. I have no doubt that Groening knew the history of Addams’s work when starting out in the late 1980s, around the time Charles Addams died of a heart attack in 1988. Addams had begun working for the New Yorker in 1935 during what we know see was a golden age of magazine writing and drawing. His contemporaries include such figures as Rea Irvin, Norman Rockwell, and J. C. Leyendecker. The item that struck me the most that day at the Morris-Jamel house was this image we see here of the presidents, which Addams created for the June 3, 1972 New Yorker cover. This would have been the summer of the McGovern vs Nixon presidential race.

The photo is not the best because the drawing was behind a pane of glass. I told my friend on that hot August day that I would post this come late January on what would have been Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s birthday. FDR was born on this day in 1882. We see him here in the top row, fourth from the left, standing tall with his characteristic big grin.