“Join, or Die” – A French Influence


Join or Die“Join, or Die” was the famous first political cartoon ever penned by Benjamin Franklin and inspired by the French! I just love how integrated the French are into American history! This cartoon was the first of its kind; printed in Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754.

So how did the French arouse this drawing? Well, due to their continuous argument over landholdings in America, Benjamin Franklin started to see his fine country as fragmented; a country that needed putting back together to be at full strength. And well, he had a point! How can you expect to thrive as a country whilst someone else is claiming big chunks of it?

Franklin decided enough was enough. A bold message needed to be sent to wake the USA up. Franklin was a fascinating man and was way before his time. He had a passionate dream and vision for the independence of America and to thrive on their own steam. More importantly, he understood that in order to convince the colonies of this idea, he needed to first convince the public.

It goes without saying that the French were in for serious trouble. Franklin’s slogan was being adopted as a battle cry throughout the colonies and his plan was working. The “Join, or Die” slogan was being reprinted in many newspapers, paraded on flags and displayed in shop windows everywhere. This was terrible news for the French.

But why a snake? At that point in time, there were myths about severed snakes coming back to life if put together before sunset. It was quite clever really. The separate parts of the snake represent different colonies: New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia etc. His plan worked and it was used again when they fought for independence again, but this time from the British.

How astonishing is it that a doodle from one of the most fascinating men in history created such change?