Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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May 9th
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On May 9, 1754, the first political cartoon published in America appeared in Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette. Franklin himself probably designed the woodcut, which shows a snake severed into pieces representing Britain’s American colonies.

The drawing was a reminder that the colonies must unite to defend themselves as they entered the French and Indian War. In an article accompanying the cartoon, Franklin warned of “the present disunited State of the British Colonies, and the extreme Difficulty of bringing so many different Governments and Assemblies to agree in any speedy and effectual Measures for our common  Defense and Security.” Franklin may have chosen a snake because of a popular superstition that a snake that had been cut into pieces would come back to life if the pieces were joined before  sunset.

Dozens of newspapers throughout the colonies reprinted the cartoon. Years later, as the Revolutionary War approached, the snake image became a favorite American symbol for unity and love of liberty.

American History Parade
1502
Christopher Columbus sails from Cadiz, Spain, on his fourth and final trip to the New World.

1754
Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette publishes America’s first political cartoon.

1865
Richard Gatling receives a patent for the Gatling gun, an early machine gun.

1926
Explorer Richard Byrd and copilot Floyd Bennett claim to have made the first flight over the North Pole (since disputed by some experts).

1974
The House Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings against President Nixon.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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