Have you ever seen that famous political cartoon of a snake cut into pieces with the message “Join, or Die” next to it? It’s been around for over 250 years and has become an iconic symbol of American history. But have you ever stopped to wonder what the snake actually symbolizes in this image?
Well, wonder no more, my friends, because I’m here to give you the lowdown on what that slithery reptile represents. The snake in the “Join, or Die” cartoon is actually a representation of the British colonies in America during the 18th century. The snake is cut into eight pieces, each one representing a different colony. The message is clear: if the colonies don’t come together and unite as one, they will ultimately fail.
This powerful image was printed in newspapers across the colonies and became a rallying cry for the colonists during the American Revolution. It symbolized the urgent need for unity and independence, and it was a call to action for all who believed in the cause of freedom. Today, the image still resonates with Americans and serves as a symbol of our country’s history and the power of unity.
Historical context of the “Join or Die” cartoon
The “Join or Die” cartoon is a well-known political cartoon that was published by Benjamin Franklin in the Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754. The cartoon depicts a snake that is cut into eight pieces, with each piece representing a different colony in America. The image is accompanied by the text “Join, or die” and was meant to encourage the colonies to unite against their common enemy, France, during the French and Indian War. This cartoon is significant because it is one of the earliest-known political cartoons in American history and helped to ignite the spirit of unity among the colonies that ultimately led to the American Revolution.
At the time the cartoon was published, the colonies were experiencing significant tensions and conflicts. Each colony had its own interests and priorities, and there was little sense of unity between them. The French and Indian War, which lasted from 1754 to 1763, further divided the colonies, as each colony had to contribute troops and resources to the war effort. The “Join or Die” cartoon was intended to bring the colonies together and encourage them to work towards a common goal.
The cartoon was an immediate success and was widely circulated throughout the colonies. It became a symbol of the fight for American independence and was used by many political leaders during the Revolutionary War. Today, the “Join or Die” cartoon is recognized as one of the most iconic political cartoons in American history and continues to be a symbol of unity and patriotism.
Benjamin Franklin’s role in creating the “Join or Die” cartoon
Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, played a significant role in creating the famous “Join or Die” cartoon. This political cartoon, which depicts a snake severed into pieces, was published in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754 during the French and Indian War. The cartoon aimed to encourage unity among the British colonies to fight against the French and their Native American allies.
- Franklin created the cartoon to promote unity – Benjamin Franklin was known for his efforts to unite the British colonies. He believed that the colonies needed to come together to address the common issues they faced. The “Join or Die” cartoon was his attempt to achieve this goal.
- The snake symbolized the colonies – The snake in the cartoon represents the British colonies. Each piece of the snake represents a colony, and the severed pieces signify the potential destruction of the colonies if they failed to unite.
- The cartoon was influential – The “Join or Die” cartoon quickly became popular throughout the colonies and was widely circulated in newspapers. It is considered to be one of the earliest examples of political propaganda in American history.
In addition to creating the “Join or Die” cartoon, Franklin was also a prominent figure in the American Revolution. He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress, where he helped draft the Declaration of Independence. He was also instrumental in securing France’s support for the American cause, which ultimately led to the defeat of the British.
Overall, Benjamin Franklin’s role in creating the “Join or Die” cartoon was significant. The cartoon remains a potent symbol of unity and has been adopted by various organizations and groups throughout history to promote similar messages.
|Symbolism in the “Join or Die” Cartoon||Meaning|
|The snake||Represents the British colonies|
|Severed pieces of the snake||Signify the potential destruction of the colonies if they fail to unite|
|The call to action “Join or Die”||Appeals to the colonies to unite and fight against their common enemies|
Franklin’s “Join or Die” cartoon is a powerful reminder of the importance of unity in achieving common goals. The symbolism in the cartoon continues to resonate with people all over the world, making it one of the most famous political cartoons in history.
The Snake’s Significance in Native American Culture
The snake is a powerful symbol in Native American culture and is often depicted in art, stories, and ceremonies. It represents many things, including wisdom, rebirth, and healing. Here are some of the ways Native American tribes have used the snake symbol in their culture:
Symbol of the Earth
- Some Native American tribes believe that the snake is a symbol of the earth and its cycles. The snake sheds its skin and emerges renewed, just as the earth goes through cycles of birth, death, and rebirth.
- The Hopi tribe considers the snake to be a messenger of the Earth and a symbol of fertility, abundance, and vitality. They believe that snakes help balance the natural world and bring rain and abundance to the earth.
- For the Cherokee tribe, the snake is a symbol of healing and is used in traditional medicine. They believe that snakes have the power to cure sickness and venom can be used to create remedies for various ailments.
Symbol of Wisdom
The snake is also often seen as a symbol of wisdom in Native American culture. The Cherokee tribe believed that snakes had access to the spirit world and could communicate with spirits. Snakes were considered guardians of ancient knowledge and wisdom.
For many Native American tribes, the snake is a powerful spiritual symbol. The Zuni tribe created intricate snake pottery that was believed to have healing powers. The Navajo tribe has a snake dance ceremony that is performed to bring rain and healing to the community. The Apache tribe has a snake clan that is responsible for healing and medicine.
The snake symbolizes many things in Native American culture, including the earth’s cycles, wisdom, and healing. It is a powerful symbol that is respected and revered by many tribes. The snake’s influence can be seen in art, stories, and ceremonies, and it plays an important role in spiritual traditions.
|Hopi||Symbol of Earth, fertility, abundance, and vitality|
|Cherokee||Symbol of healing and ancient wisdom|
|Zuni||Symbol of healing|
|Navajo||Snake dance ceremony for rain and healing|
|Apache||Snake clan responsible for healing and medicine|
The Snake as a Symbol of Deception and Danger in Western Mythology
In Western mythology, the snake has often been associated with deception and danger. From the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible to the Greek myth of Medusa, the snake has been portrayed as a cunning and treacherous creature that humans should be wary of.
The Snake as a Symbol of Deception
- In the Bible, the serpent is depicted as deceiving Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, leading to the fall of humanity. The snake is seen as a representation of temptation and the dangers of disobedience.
- The story of Medusa from Greek mythology tells of a woman who was cursed with snakes for hair after she was caught having an affair with Poseidon. Anyone who looked at her face was turned to stone, highlighting the idea of the snake as a symbol of danger.
- Snakes have also been associated with trickery and deceit in other cultures, such as in Hindu mythology where the god Vishnu is often depicted resting on a serpent, signifying the deceptive nature of the universe.
The Snake as a Symbol of Danger
The association between snakes and danger can be traced back to the fact that many snakes are venomous and can cause harm to humans. This fear of snakes has been embedded in our psyche for centuries, and is reflected in many works of art and literature.
For example, in Shakespeare’s play ‘Macbeth’, the titular character is warned of a potential threat to his throne by the prophecy: “Beware the serpent of the forest”. This line is often interpreted as a warning of the danger that lurks in the shadows, with the serpent representing a dangerous and deceptive force.
The Symbolism of the Snake in Western Mythology
The snake’s association with deception and danger has made it a powerful symbol in Western mythology. As a symbol of temptation and trickery, the snake represents the dangers that lie in wait for those who are not cautious. At the same time, the snake’s sleek and cunning nature can also be seen as a source of power, making it a popular theme in many works of art and literature.
|Bible||Deception and temptation|
|Greek||Danger and treachery|
|Hindu||Deceptive nature of the universe|
Overall, the symbolism of the snake as a creature of deception and danger is a powerful one, and has remained popular in Western mythology even today.
Religious associations of snakes in different cultures
Snakes have been a powerful symbol in various religious and cultural contexts. From ancient times, the snake has been depicted as a powerful creature that possessed supernatural powers.
Let us explore some of the religious associations of snakes in different cultures –
- Egyptian mythology: In ancient Egypt, the snake was believed to be a symbol of royalty, divine authority, and protection. The snake deity, Wadjet, was often portrayed as a cobra-headed goddess, associated with childbirth, protection, and healing.
- Greek mythology: In Greek mythology, the snake was often associated with healing and medicine. The Asclepius Staff, a symbol of medicine, features two snakes entwined around a staff. The mythical creature, the Basilisk, was also believed to have the power to kill with its gaze.
- Hindu mythology: In Hindu mythology, the snake is associated with various deities, including Lord Shiva. Snakes are believed to be protectors of the earth’s treasures and are worshipped during the festival of Nag Panchami.
In addition to these cultural and religious associations, the number 5 also holds significance when it comes to the symbolism of snakes. The following table summarizes the key meanings associated with the number 5 and snakes:
|5||Associated with the five senses; the number of natural elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether); considered a mystical number|
These cultural and religious associations of snakes demonstrate the enduring power and fascination that this creature holds in our imaginations.
The Use of Snake Imagery in Political Propaganda Throughout History:
The image of a snake has been used in political propaganda throughout history to convey different meanings, from unity to danger and fear. Here are some of the ways in which snake imagery has been used:
- Unity: The snake’s ability to join together and become strong has been used to represent unity in different political contexts. For example, the snake was used as a symbol of the United States during the American Revolution, as seen in Benjamin Franklin’s “Join, or Die” image.
- Danger: Snakes are often seen as dangerous and venomous, and this has been used in political propaganda to evoke fear and rally support for a cause. For example, during the Second World War, the Japanese used the image of a snake with an extended tongue to symbolize the United States as an aggressive and dangerous enemy.
- Deception: The snake’s ability to change color and blend into its surroundings has been used to represent deception in political propaganda. For example, during the Russian Revolution, the image of a snake was used to represent the counter-revolutionaries who were seen as deceptive and sly.
Below is a table that summarizes some of the different ways in which snake imagery has been used in political propaganda throughout history:
|Unity||Join, or Die image during the American Revolution|
|Danger||Japanese snake image during the Second World War|
|Deception||Snake image during the Russian Revolution|
In conclusion, the snake has been used as a potent symbol in political propaganda throughout history, representing different ideas and emotions depending on the context. Whether as a symbol of unity, danger, or deception, the image of a snake has the power to evoke strong emotions and rally support for a cause.
The Relationship Between Snakes and the Concept of Unity
Snakes have been symbols of unity across different cultures, religions, and traditions for centuries. In the Join or Die political cartoon, the snake represents the American colonies, united to fight against the British. Here are some interesting facts about the number 7 that relate to this concept of unity:
The Number 7
- Seven is a number that is often associated with spiritual and mystical practices.
- There are 7 days in a week, and each day is associated with a specific planet or celestial body in astrology. This idea of an interconnected universe relates to the concept of unity.
- In Christianity, 7 represents perfection or spiritual completeness. This is exemplified in the seven days of creation in the Bible.
The Snake and the Number 7
The snake, as a symbol of unity, is also connected to the number 7 in various ways. For example:
- In Hinduism, the kundalini energy is often depicted as a coiled serpent that rises through 7 chakras, or energy centers, in the body.
- In Greek mythology, the caduceus, a symbol of healing, features two snakes and a staff with wings that represent unity and balance.
- The ouroboros, an ancient symbol of a serpent eating its own tail, is connected to concepts of infinity and completion and is often depicted in a circle with 7 sections.
The Power of Symbolism
While the number 7 and the snake may seem like disconnected symbols, it is through their connection to various cultures and traditions that they are imbued with meaning. Symbols have the power to unite people across time and space, creating a sense of shared experience and collective identity. It is in this way that the snake in the Join or Die cartoon was able to represent the unity of the American colonies against their common enemy.
|Kundalini energy||The serpent rising through 7 chakras in the body|
|Caduceus||Two snakes and a staff with wings represent unity and balance|
|Ouroboros||Ancient symbol of a serpent eating its own tail, connected to concepts of infinity and completion, often depicted in a circle with 7 sections|
Overall, the snake as a symbol of unity and the number 7 as a representation of spiritual and mystical completeness have a fascinating and intricate relationship that transcends time and culture.
Characteristics of the snake that make it a powerful symbol
The snake is a fascinating and intriguing creature that has been revered and feared throughout human history. In many cultures, it is considered a powerful symbol that represents various meanings such as rebirth, transformation, healing, and wisdom. Here are some characteristics of the snake that make it a powerful symbol:
- The snake sheds its skin and emerges renewed and transformed, which symbolizes rebirth and renewal.
- The snake’s ability to move quickly and silently, with a keen sense of awareness, represents agility, adaptability, and vigilance.
- Many snakes are venomous, delivering a poisonous bite that can be lethal, which represents danger, power, and fear.
- Some snakes are revered for their healing properties, such as the Rod of Asclepius, which is a snake-entwined staff that is the symbol of medicine and represents healing and wisdom.
The Number 8
The number 8 is considered a powerful symbol in many cultures, religions, and belief systems. It is a symbol of infinity, balance, and harmony, as well as abundance, prosperity, and success. The snake and the number 8 have some interesting connections, such as:
The snake’s movements are often described as fluid and sinuous, resembling the number 8. In this way, the snake is a symbol of infinity and the cyclical nature of life, death, and rebirth. The number 8 is also associated with the concept of eternity and the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
In Chinese culture, the number 8 is considered lucky and represents abundance and prosperity. This is because the word for “eight” sounds similar to the word for “prosperity” or “wealth.” The snake is also considered a symbol of good luck and fortune in Chinese culture.
|Abundance||Sheds skin, renewal||Luck, prosperity|
Overall, the snake is a powerful symbol that represents a variety of meanings and is often associated with other symbols such as the number 8. Its unique characteristics and traits make it a fascinating and compelling symbol that has stood the test of time.
Variations of the “Join or Die” cartoon throughout American history
The “Join or Die” cartoon created by Benjamin Franklin in 1754 was originally intended as a call for unity among the thirteen colonies during the French and Indian War. However, the image of a segmented snake quickly became an iconic symbol of American independence and sovereignty, inspiring countless variations over the centuries.
- Civil War Era: During the 1860s, the “Join or Die” snake resurfaced as a symbol of the Union’s solidarity against the Confederate States. The segmented snake was often replaced with a single, unbroken snake wrapped around a pole and labeled “United We Stand.”
- World War II: The snake made another appearance during World War II, this time designed by artist Arthur Szyk. His version featured a fierce rattlesnake with seven rattles, representing the seven Allied Powers fighting against Nazi Germany.
- Cold War: In the 1950s and 60s, the “Join or Die” cartoon was adapted to reflect the tensions of the Cold War. Examples of this include a poster with a snake’s head copying the shape of the U.S. as an alert for people to keep watch for Communist subversion and an arms race propaganda poster featuring a snake coiled around a bomb with a caption that reads “Join the Cold War Army”.
Disney’s The Incredibles: The film featured the character Mr. Incredible wearing a “Join or Die” t-shirt, putting the iconic symbol into the modern mainstream media. This was one of the rare times the symbol was used for an optimistic message, representing the unity of the superhero family in their struggle against evil.
|Year||Use of “Join or Die” symbol|
|1754||The original political cartoon created by Benjamin Franklin to rally support for the colonies during the French and Indian War.|
|1860s||The Civil War era, the symbol was used to represent the Union’s solidarity against the Confederate States.|
|1940s||The symbol was used as a representation of Allied powers fighting against Nazi Germany.|
|1950s-60s||During the Cold War, the “Join or Die” imagery was incorporated into anti-Communist propaganda.|
|2004||The film ‘The Incredibles’ features the character Mr. Incredible wearing a “Join or Die” t-shirt, representing the unity of the superhero family in their struggle against evil.|
These variations on the “Join or Die” cartoon demonstrate the enduring appeal of Franklin’s original concept. From a colonial call to arms to a symbol of modern-day heroism, the segmented snake remains a powerful motif that continues to inspire unity and patriotism amongst Americans.
The legacy of the “Join or Die” cartoon and its continued relevance in modern times
The “Join or Die” cartoon was originally published in 1754 in the Pennsylvania Gazette, a newspaper owned by Benjamin Franklin. It is believed to be the first political cartoon published in America and was created to unite the colonies in support of the French and Indian War. The cartoon depicts a snake cut into eight pieces with each segment representing a different colony. Underneath the snake, the caption reads “Join or Die.” The cartoon was a call to action for the colonies to unite and fight against the French and Native American forces that were aligned against them.
- The snake symbolizes the colonies
- The eight segments represent the eight colonies that existed at the time
- The “Join or Die” message was a call to action for the colonies to unite and fight against a common enemy
The legacy of the “Join or Die” cartoon extends far beyond its original purpose. The cartoon has become a powerful symbol of unity and has been used throughout American history to rally people around a common cause.
In modern times, the “Join or Die” message is still relevant. We are living in a time of great division and polarization, and it is more important than ever that we come together to address the many challenges that we face as a society. Whether it is addressing issues of social justice or combating climate change, we must work together to create meaningful change.
|The “Join or Die” cartoon has been used throughout American history as a symbol of unity.||In modern times, the message of “Join or Die” is more relevant than ever as we face challenges that require us to work together.|
|The cartoon has been referenced in political campaigns, including during the 2008 presidential election.||The message of “Join or Die” has been used in social justice movements to unite people around a common cause.|
|The “Join or Die” message has been used in advertising campaigns and for various causes, including environmental protection.||The image and message of “Join or Die” continues to resonate with people, inspiring them to come together and work towards a better future.|
The “Join or Die” cartoon may have been created over 250 years ago, but its message continues to inspire and unite people today. It is a powerful reminder that when we work together, we can overcome even the most challenging obstacles.
FAQs about what does the snake symbolize in “Join or Die”
1. What is the origin of the “Join or Die” snake symbol?
The “Join or Die” snake first appeared in a cartoon published by Benjamin Franklin in 1754. The cartoon was used to encourage the colonies to unite against the French and Native Americans during the French and Indian War.
2. What does the snake symbolize in “Join or Die”?
The snake represents the colonies and their need to unite in order to overcome their adversaries. The snake is cut into pieces that represent the individual colonies, emphasizing the importance of collective action.
3. Is the “Join or Die” snake symbol still relevant today?
Yes, the “Join or Die” snake symbol is still relevant today as a reminder of the importance of unity in the face of common challenges.
4. What are some examples of times when the “Join or Die” mentality has been applied in history?
Examples of the “Join or Die” mentality being applied in history include the American Revolution, the Civil Rights Movement, and the fight against apartheid in South Africa.
5. What message does the “Join or Die” snake symbol convey?
The “Join or Die” snake symbol conveys the message that divided we fall, but united we stand. It emphasizes the importance of coming together to achieve a common goal.
6. How is the “Join or Die” snake symbol used today?
The “Join or Die” snake symbol is used in a variety of ways today, including in political campaigns and as a symbol of patriotism and national unity.
7. Is the “Join or Die” snake symbol only relevant to the United States?
No, the message of the “Join or Die” snake symbol is universal and can be applied to any situation where unity is necessary to overcome a challenge.
Closing Thoughts on “What Does the Snake Symbolize in ‘Join or Die'”
Thank you for reading this article about the meaning of the “Join or Die” snake symbol. As we’ve learned, the snake represents the need for unity and collective action in order to overcome our adversaries. This message is still relevant today and can be applied to a variety of situations both in the United States and around the world. We encourage you to keep this message in mind as you navigate your own challenges and to visit us again for future articles.