The "Join or Die" Snake, Ben Franklin, and America

The Join or Die image is known as America's first political cartoon. Originally published in Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette  May 9 1754, the image and accompanying article argued the colonies' strength in unity against both English domination and French expansion. The New England colonies were combined into the head of the snake, while Georgia was absent. Curiously, the curving of the snake's body in reminiscent of the colonies' coastline.  

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

In fact, the article preceding the cartoon was about the French seizing a British frontier outpost and seemed to be more about how the disunity of the colonies was dangerous because of the threat of French expansion. The cartoon was reprinted ubiquitously and has retained relevance through generations.

I chose "Join or Die" as a branding tool for my knife company for a few reasons:

  • The name is a bold statement. This is a company that makes dangerous tools, not body care or textiles.
  • Its not my name. Most people don't want a knife with some other dude's name on it. If anyone's name is on it, it should be their own.
  • Unity with the maker community. It's hard to "make it" as a maker and joining together in support of one another is essential to our survival in business.
  • History. I love history and the lessons it holds. Regardless of what you think about America today, there is no question that we have a fascinating and rich history and are a truly incredible nation of hardworking and creative people.