When did Ben Franklin’s original political cartoon ‘Join or Die’ first appear in ‘The Pennsylvania Gazette’?
‘Join or Die’ was a political cartoon attributed to Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). It first appeared as a commentary align with Franklin’s editorial on the disunity of the Thirteen Colonies during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). It was later used to encourage the former colonies to unite for the cause of independence during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
The original publication of the carton by ‘The Pennsylvania Gazette’ on May 9, 1754, is the earliest known pictorial representation of colonial union. Founded in 1728, the newspaper was bought by Franklin a year later.
The cartoon showed a snake cut into eighths, with each segment labeled with the initials of one of the American colonies or regions. New England was represented as one segment, rather than the four colonies it was at the time. Delaware was not listed separately as it was part of Pennsylvania. Georgia, however, was omitted completely. As a result, the cartoon had eight segments of a snake rather than the traditional 13 colonies.
His cartoon focused solely on the colonies that claimed shared identities as Americans. Franklin’s editorial talked about the “disunited state” of the colonies and emphasized his message about the importance of colonial unity.
The French and Indian War was a part of the Seven Years’ War that pitted Great Britain alongside the Thirteen Colonies and their native allies against the French, in New France and their native allies.