Join or Die

Join or Die


Join or Die

The rattlesnake was the favorite animal emblem of the Americans even before the Revolution. In 1751 Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette carried a bitter article protesting the British practice of sending convicts to America. The author suggested tht the colonists return the favor by shipping "a cargo of rattlesnakes, which could be distributed in St. James Park, Spring Garden, and other places of pleasure, and particularly in the noblemen's gardens." Three years later the same paper printed the picture (as seen above) of a snake as a commentary on the Albany Congress. To remind the delegates of the danger of disunity, the serpent was shown cut to pieces. Each segment is marked with the name of a colony, and the motto "Join or Die" below. Other newspapers took up the snake theme.

By 1774 the segments of the snake had grown together, and the motto had been changed to read: "United Now Alive and Free Firm on this Basis Liberty Shall Stand and Thus Supported Ever Bless Our Land Till Time Becomes Eternity"

Other authors felt the rattlesnake was a good example of America's virtues. They argued that it is unique to America; individually its rattles produce no sound, but united they can be heard by all; and while it does not attack unless provoked, it is deadly to step upon one.