Answer key primary Source Analysis: join or die political Cartoon

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Primary Source Analysis: JOIN or DIE Political Cartoon

A political cartoon is a cartoon that makes a point about a political issue or event. It is considered a primary source.

TASK: Examine the political cartoon below and fill out the chart below. When you analyze the document, be sure to consider the source (Who drew it? When was it drawn?), symbolism, and the point of view. Fill at least 3 rows in the chart.

OBJECTIVE: Evaluate and interpret the artist’s message.

Join, or Die,” by Benjamin Franklin, Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia, PA), 
May 9, 1754. Courtesy, Library of Congress

Possible Answers:

I see…

I think it means…


Snakes are powerful animals, but this one is “broken/divided” - making it less powerful.

The colonies at this time had the potential to be very powerful if they were united. However, they are divided due to the colonies’ inability to agree on a common defense because of separate assemblies.

Abbreviations of colonies

This is a “map” of the 13 colonies. [NE is listed as one and GA and DE are not represented for an unknown reason]

Phrase –

“Join, or Die”

If the colonies do not unite (join) the colonies will lose any semblance of independence they have (die). [or they will literally die because of war]

By Benjamin Franklin in 1754

Known Enlightenment thinker, known to have supported British control at this time, drew this at the start of the French and Indian War

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