Join, or Die is a political cartoon, drawn by Benjamin Franklin and first published in his Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754. The original publication by the Gazette is the earliest known pictorial representation of colonial union produced by a British colonist in America. It is a woodcut showing 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 that time. Delaware was not listed separately as it was part of Pennsylvania. Georgia, however, was omitted completely. Thus, it has eight segments of snake rather than the traditional 13 colonies. The two northernmost British American colonies at the time, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, were not represented, nor were any British Caribbean possessions. The cartoon appeared along with Franklin’s editorial about the “disunited state” of the colonies, and helped make his point about the importance of colonial unity. This cartoon was used in the French and Indian War to symbolize that the colonies needed to join together with the Kingdom of Great Britain to defeat the French and Indians. It became a symbol of colonial freedom during the American Revolutionary War.
1. “Join, or Die”. Pennsylvania Gazette. Philadelphia. May 9, 1754. p. 2. Retrieved January 19, 2014 – via Newspapers.com.
2. Margolin, Victor. “Rebellion, Reform, and Revolution: American Graphic Design for Social Change”. Design Issues Vol. 5, No. 1, 1988
3. “Join or Die Snake Historical Flag”. Flags Unlimited. Retrieved May 13, 2011
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