The relationship of the American colonists and the British monarchy had long been an unstable one. The colonists had suffered years of neglect as Britain went through a period of civil war. During this age of neglect, the American people were allotted a considerable amount of freedoms and self-government. However, when the political climate settled down in Britain, the new monarch felt the need to tightly control the colonies. The American people, who had been used to a somewhat high degree of self-government where now being imposed with new taxes and royal governors. All of this only contributed to the instability of the American-British relationship.
After the war ended in 1763, the British government began an effort to gain more control
over the colonies and collect additional revenues to reduce the large debt that Britain had incured during the French and Indian War. The Currency Act of 1764 prohibited colonists in America from printing their own currency.
The colonists protested this act vehemently. The Currency act also set up a court that would guarantee that the ruling would be in favor of the British and not the colonist.
Benjamin Franklin's cartoon shows a snake cut into eight pieces (with each piece labeled with the abbreviations of one of the colonies). The illustration's caption reads, "JOIN, or DIE." Although the cartoons intent was to unite the colonists against the threat of the Native Americans, it served as a greater message to promote the importance of colonial unity. This colonial unity would extend far beyond the Native American threat and would eventually be the basis of the founding of a new nation. It was also important for the colonies to stay unified in their efforts to fight back against the unfair burden placed on them by their "mother" country.
One of the...