M965.199.3651 | Progress of Man

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Drawing, cartoon
Progress of Man
John Collins
About 1961, 20th century
Ink, graphite and opaque white on paper
36.7 x 29.2 cm
Gift of Mr. John Collins - The Gazette
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  armament (105) , Cartoon (19139) , Cold War (158) , Drawing (18637) , drawing (18379) , International conflicts (608) , International stakes (660) , Nuclear weapon (12) , war (1452) , war (145)
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Keys to History

The cartoonist takes a rather cynical view of the "progress" of human history, with its evolution toward ever more powerful weapons that can destroy the planet at the push of a button.

  • What

    Civilians were becoming increasingly alarmed about the proliferation of nuclear weapons, fearing that the devices might ultimately be used against them. According to some observers, such powerful weapons could bring about the end of civilization as we know it.

  • Where

    In the 1960s, countries that had nuclear weapons kept their arsenals in underground missile silos, on submarines or on strategic bombers.

  • When

    By the early 1960s, the major superpowers were capable of a "push-button war," in which nuclear missiles could be launched simply by pressing buttons.

  • Who

    The American and Soviet superpowers were the two countries thought most likely to square up in a nuclear confrontation.