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Join, or Die

"Join, or Die" by Benjamin Franklin was recycled to encourage the former colonies to unite against British rule

"Join, or Die" is a well-known

  • Copeland, David. "'Join, or die': America's press during the French and Indian War." Journalism History (1998) 24#3 pp: 112-23 online
  • Olson, Lester C. "Benjamin Franklin's pictorial representations of the British colonies in America: A study in rhetorical iconology." Quarterly Journal of Speech 73.1 (1987): 18-42.

Further reading

  1. ^ "Join, or Die". Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia). May 9, 1754. p. 2. Retrieved January 19, 2014 – via  
  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. 
  4. ^ a b c Olson, Lester C. Benjamin Franklin'sGeorge Washington Vision of American Community. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, 2004
  5. ^ "The Writings of Benjamin Franklin: Philadelphia, 1726 - 1757". Retrieved May 1, 2006. 
  6. ^ "Political cartoon: MAGNA Britannia : her Colonies REDUC'D". Library Company of Philadelphia. Retrieved April 29, 2007. 
  7. ^ "A More Perfect Union: Symbolizing the National Union of States".  
  8. ^ Join, or Die' - the Political Cartoon by Benjamin Franklin"'".  
  9. ^ "Philadelphia Major League Soccer Team Reveals Identity to the World".  
  10. ^ "22 September 2009".  
  11. ^ "The Rallying Cry of the Robot Skeleton Army". Plixi. February 11, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2010. 
  12. ^ "NCIS Recap: Dead Air".  


See also

  • The Latin translation of Join, or Die (Jungite aut Perite) is used as the official motto of the Philadelphia Union soccer team. A snake is also featured in their logo as an allusion to this cartoon.[9]
  • A flag featuring this cartoon was prominently displayed in the opening credits of the TV miniseries John Adams and was the title for the first part of the miniseries.
  • The Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson has this cartoon tattooed on the inside of his right forearm reaching his wrist, to commemorate becoming an American Citizen.[10][11]
  • An image of the Join, Or Die snake was delivered as a threat to a victim in the NCIS episode "Dead Air". It was used as a symbol for a Military At Home terrorist group.[12]
  • 'Join Or Die' is the name given to the special edition of the video game Assassin's Creed III, it being set during the American Revolutionary War.
  • The cartoon is on a T-shirt worn by Justin Walker (Dave Annable) in episode 4 of season 4 ("From France with Love," 2009) of the American television series Brothers & Sisters.
  • In the TNT show Falling Skies, when Pope and his gang of outlaws are cornered at gunpoint by Tom Mason, Pope asks Mason for options, to which Mason replies "Join, or Die!". Part of Mason's backstory included him being a Boston University history professor who taught the American Revolution as part of his curriculum.
  • On the Fox show Sleepy Hollow in the episode Magnum Opus in Season 2 Episode 10, the original "Join or Die" cartoon is shown and described as being drawn by Benjamin Franklin to secretly indicate an actual river. Looking at actual map, the place where the mouth of the snake is located is where the main characters find an enchanted sword.

The cartoon has been reprinted and redrawn widely throughout American history. Variants of the cartoon have different texts, e.g. "Unite or Dead", and differently labeled segments, depending on the political bodies being appealed to. During the American Revolutionary War, the image became a potent symbol of Colonial unity and resistance to what was seen as British oppression. It returned to service, suitably redrawn, for both sides of the American Civil War.[8]

Legacy of the cartoon

Soon after the publication of the cartoon during the Stamp Act Congress, variations were printed in New York, Massachusetts, and a couple of months later it had spread to Virginia and South Carolina. In some states, such as New York and Pennsylvania, the cartoon continued to be published week after week for over a year.[4] On July 7, 1774 Paul Revere altered the cartoon to fit the masthead of the Massachusetts Spy.[7]

The difference between the use of "Join or Die" in 1754 and 1765 is that Franklin had designed it to unite the colonies for 'management of Indian relations' and defense against France, but in 1765 American colonists used it to urge colonial unity against the British. Also during this time the phrase "join, or die" changed to "unite, or die," in some states such as New York and Pennsylvania.

Franklin's political cartoon took on a different meaning during the lead up to the American Revolution, especially around 1765-1766, during the Stamp Act Congress. British colonists in America protesting British rule used the cartoon in the Constitutional Courant to help persuade the colonists. However, the Patriots, who associated the image with eternity, vigilance, and prudence, were not the only ones who saw a new interpretation of the cartoon. The Loyalists saw the cartoon with more biblical traditions, such as those of guile, deceit, and treachery. Franklin himself opposed the use of his cartoon at this time, but instead advocated a moderate political policy; in 1766, he published a new cartoon "MAGNA Britannia: her Colonies REDUC'D",[6] where he warned against the danger of Britain losing her American colonies by means of the image of a female figure (Britannia) with her limbs cut off. Because of Franklin's initial cartoon, however, the "Courant" was thought of in England as one of the most radical publications.[4]

Massachusetts Spy, July 7, 1774

Role prior to and during the American Revolution

"The Confidence of the French in this Undertaking seems well-grounded on the present disunited State of the British Colonies, and the extreme Difficulty of bringing so many different Governments and Assemblies to agree in any speedy and effectual Measures for our common defense and Security; while our Enemies have the very great Advantage of being under one. Direction, with one Council, and one Purse...."[5]

and his cartoon suggested that such a union was necessary to avoid destruction. As Franklin wrote, Albany Plan Franklin had proposed the [4] At that time, the colonists were divided on whether to fight the

Role during the Seven Years' War


  • Role during the Seven Years' War 1
  • Role prior to and during the American Revolution 2
  • Legacy of the cartoon 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6

. American Revolutionary War to defeat the French and Indians. It became a symbol of colonial freedom during the Great Britain to symbolize that the colonies needed to join together with French and Indian War. 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 British Caribbean possessions, were not represented, nor were any Newfoundland and Nova Scotia The two northernmost British American colonies at the time, [3]

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