Statesman. Scientist. Inventor. Cartoonist? The accomplished Benjamin Franklin wore a lot of feathers in his cap, to be sure, but his work in the medium of comics is too often overshadowed by cultural monoliths such as Garfield.
In 1754 Franklin published a political cartoon in the Pennsylvania Gazette, and it is significant for being the first pictorial representation of the colonial union by an American. It depicts a rather unfortunate serpent that has been chopped up into eight bits, each representing a different colony.(Why Franklin omitted Georgia is unclear. Perhaps he was a Mets fan.)
Franklin’s cartoon, titled Join, or Die, was eventually used to encourage the colonies to unite against British despotism. The fact that it helped in at least some small part is demonstrated by many distinctly American virtues, including taxation with representation, not having to spell the word“color” with a superfluous“u,” and dentistry.
Nowadays many states are considering breaking apart from the union. Vermont, with its abundance of maple syrup and mud-encrusted vehicles, would be a great loss to this nation, as would California with its strategic reserve of bong shops. And we would shudder to imagine an America without Texas, the home of smoked meat and birthplace of Tommy Lee Jones.
If you too believe that America would remain greatest intact, you will enjoy proudly wearing our Join or Die T-shirt. It also doubles as fitting apparel for those who hold an unusually big grudge against snakes.