Vox contributor Estelle Caswell explains the burning complicated reasons why cartoon characters wear gloves. The simplest explanation is that gloves are easier to animate, but for a more complex answer check out the video below.
The Opry House reveals how inextricably linked vaudeville performance and blackface minstrelsy were to early animation. Nicholas Sammond writes in his book Birth of an Industry that early animators often performed at these shows. They also studied the performances of many of the vaudeville artists and translated those characters studies to paper when they were inventing their own cartoons.