Political Cartoons

Political Cartoons proved the significance of Unity among the
American Colonies under a poorly structured British Legislature, with a meaning aimed to open the hearts and minds of all colonists.

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     Political cartoons are creations of imagery involving political and social opinions, with common themes, artistic complexity, but comprehendible simplicity, in order to allow the common people to access current issues in their world as if an everyday action. They can be found in most forms of reading, such as newspapers, or pamphlets, but got their start around time of the American Revolution. The goal of most political cartoons during this time was to unite the country under a single understanding and criticize Britain for its poorly structured government, lacking proper representation for the colonies. It is important to note that the colonists did not (yet) wish to break away from Britain and become the United States of America they are today; the Colonists were very proud to be considered British, and simply wanted the fair and equal treatment their own people got on the other side of the ocean. The colonists also wanted to be able to make their own laws, and trade with whom they see fit, for Parliament did not know the details of economic overview a whole world away from them. Political cartoons took the values of these extreme opinions and wove them into emotional imagery and secluded facts, with  a mindset to aim for all to comprehend their meaning.

Join, or Die

     This first political is considered the first of it's kind. First created by Benjamin Franklin, this image represented the colonies in an earlier day, and their need for unity if they were to survive the oncoming tyranny of British outlook in future years. Although the colonists did not see these sort of upcoming problems during their earlier trials, the ideals carried with this cartoon up until the start and end of the American Revolution.

The Colonies Reduced

     This second political cartoon is a sort of play-off from "Join, or Die". Illustrated around the time of the Stamp Act by (once again) Benjamin Franklin; The woman represents Britain, and her missing limbs are labeled as the colonies. This is criticism against Britain stating that without the colonies, Britain would be useless. Laws put against the will and representation of the colonies would "sever" the relationships the colonies had with Britain, and all would suffer the same fate. If the colonies were to fall apart onto their own, Britain would fall in the same manner.

Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man

     Lastly, John Malcom drew a political cartoon in reference to the historical timeframe near the Boston Tea Party describing absurd taxes Britain had put on goods and products the Colonies believed they should be making themselves. Not having a choice, or fair representation on the laws Parliament was making, the Colonists felts as if their rule was being "forced down their throats" as portrayed in the imagery of the political cartoon.


Political cartoons must be simple enough to comprehend, but impactful enough to make a difference in the ways of thought. These cartoons were considered as threats by some British members, but the cartoons were one of few ways that provided a glimpse into the lives, minds, and thought processes of the American Colonist during this period. Cartoons allowed the common people to access the true meaning of their current events by going about their daily business and seeing them. There would be no facts, but rather opinions hidden underneath the layer of complex art styles. A Political Cartoon's accessibility, interesting style, and simplicity in the common mind are perhaps why they still stand today; even in our of newspapers.

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