“Join, or Die” is a well-known political cartoon, created 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 timber rattlesnake cut into eighths, with each segment labeled with the initials of one of the thirteen American Colonies or region. New England was represented as one segment, rather than the four colonies it was at that time. In addition, Delaware (then a part of Pennsylvania) and Georgia were omitted completely. Thus, it has 8 segments of snake rather than the traditional 13 colonies.

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. During that era, there was a superstition that a snake which had been cut into pieces would come back to life if the pieces were put together before sunset. This cartoon was used in the French and Indian War to symbolize that the colonies needed to join together with England to defeat the French and Indians. It became a symbol of colonial freedom during the American Revolutionary War.

Cotton. Approx 3ft by 5ft