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Lesson One

Reading Set 5

Franklin’s explanation of the cartoon

Great Britain is supposed to have been placed upon the globe; but the Colonies (that is, her limbs) being severed from her, she is seen lifting her eyes and mangled stumps to heaven; her shield, which she is unable to wield, lies useless by her side; her lance has pierced new England; the laurel branch has fallen from the hand of Pennsylvania; the English oak has lost its head, and stands a bare trunk, with a few withered branches; briars and thorns are on the ground beneath it; the British ships have brooms at their topmasts’ heads, denoting their being on sale; and BRITANNIA herself is seen sliding off the world (no longer able to hold its balance) her fragments overspread with the label, DATE OBOLUM BELLISARIO.2

Source: Hawke, Franklin, p. 237.

Questions

  • 1.

    What appears to be the reason for an apparent change in Franklin’s position regarding British threats on Americans?

  • 2.

    How do you think members of the House of Commons would respond to Franklin’s cartoon? Why?

3. How might members of the Commons who favored repeal of the Stamp Act have used Franklin’s warnings?

Photograph from the Lights of Liberty Show

2 The English translation of the Latin inscription is “Give a penny to Belisarius.” Belisario was a Roman general in the service of the Emperor Justinian. Neglected by Justinian, he was forced in his old age to beg for a living.

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