Political Cartoons of the Revolutionary War

Task: Carefully examine each of the political cartoons; use the passage below each one as you try to decipher the meaning. Ask yourself for each cartoon: who is the indented audience? What is the bias? What is the author's message? Next select the two political cartoons of which you have the best understanding. Click on the cartoon image to download and complete the assignment sheet.

This cartoon was drawn by Benjamin Franklin in the very early days of the Revolutionary War. It was done shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord. Pay special attention to the letters along the snake's body. In order to understand the meaning of this cartoon, consider who the audience might have been.

This cartoon shows several members of the Sons of Liberty standing in front of a tree marked "Liberty Tree". The unhappy person kneeling in the center of the picture appears to be covered in feathers.  The Sons of Liberty are pouring a liquid into his mouth from a container marked "tea". To better understand this picture make sure you can identify the man who is kneeling.

This cartoon is entitled "Bostonians in Trouble". It shows people in a cage that is suspended from a tree labeled "Liberty Tree". Below the cage, people are handing fish up to the people who are trapped.

This illustration was done later in the Revolutionary War as the colonists were beginning to gain momentum. They had already won two major victories over British troops. The illustration is entitled the "American Rattle Snake". The snake is saying, "Two British armies have I beaten and room for more I've got behind." The sign posted over the third empty coil says, "room for rent for military gentlemen."

The Stamp Act caused anger and resentment among the colonists. Finally, Parliament repealed the Stamp act in 1766. In this cartoon we see a funeral procession to the tomb of the Stamp Act. The man who created the Stamp Act in Parliament, George Grenville is shown carrying a child's coffin that says "Miss American Stamp Act born 1765 died 1766".

This cartoon shows the King of England pointing a gun at a man who represents the colonies. A member of Parliament is pointing at this man and saying, "I give you that man's money for your use. The colonists responds by saying, "I will not be robbed!" Behind him a woman representing England is blindfolded and is about to stumble into a pit that is labeled, "the Pit prepared for others".

Last updated 9/2005 - © 2005
James Zoller - zollerjames@wyomingcityschools.org
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