Berryman, Clifford

Clifford Berryman (1869-1949) created the iconic teddy bear cartoon that is forever linked with Theodore Roosevelt. A political cartoonist for the Washington Post (1890-1907) and the Washington Evening Star (1907-1949), Berryman’s career spanned several presidential administrations. He commented through his drawings on all of them.

Berryman was born in Clifton, Kentucky, to James and Sallie Berryman. In 1893, he married Kate Geddes Durfee and they later had three children, one of whom, James, followed in Berryman’s footsteps to become a Pulitzer-Prize winning political cartoonist.

In 1902, Berryman created the famous teddy bear after President Roosevelt’s November hunting trip in his cartoon “Drawing the Line in Mississippi.” Most Americans considered Berryman’s bear charming, and it helped to diminish some of the negative publicity Roosevelt received from that controversial hunt. Berryman continued to use the teddy bear to symbolize President Roosevelt in many more cartoons during and after his time in office. Sometimes the teddy bear was a side kick to Roosevelt, backing him up during contemporary challenges. At other times, the teddy bear reflected a different side of newsworthy controversy. Berryman also used the small bear to indicate emotions that he could not impute to the president. The teddy bear’s fame prompted Berryman to create a calendar starring different teddy bear drawings for each of the twelve months of the year. His cartoons so popularized the teddy bear that children’s authors promoted it in their stories and toy manufacturers created the plush teddy bear that we know today. The entire Roosevelt family greatly appreciated Clifford Berryman, especially because the teddy bear cartoons were for the most part supportive of Roosevelt and his policies.

Berryman became very well known for his political cartoons. In 1944, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartoons for his cartoon about President Franklin D. Roosevelt entitled “Where is the Boat Going?” Berryman’s corpus of work includes over two thousand cartoons. He was recognized during his lifetime as a keen but kind satirist, one who pilloried policies but not people, and who doled out equal criticism to Democrats and Republicans.