Historic Ben Franklin cartoon in John Adams TV series on display at Geppi museum Join, or Die: History lives at Geppi's Entertainment Museum in the form of Ben Franklin's cartoon featured in HBO's John Adams mini-series.
News-Antique.com - Apr 08,2008 - BALTIMORE - For viewers of HBO's lavish, compelling, and historically rich mini-series John Adams, the image of the famous “Join, or Die” cartoon is front and center, in both visual and intellectual terms. Illustrated by Benjamin Franklin and first published in the May 9, 1754 Pennsylvania Gazette, perhaps the only known copy in private hands is on display at Geppi's Entertainment Museum (GEM) in Baltimore's storied Camden Yards complex.
The segmented snake depicted in the illustration represented the colonies and regions of the British lands in the New World. Its call for unity would be issued again and again, for different causes.
While its image is featured prominently in the opening credits of the six-part television drama, the thought behind the illustration permeated pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary-era America. Drafted as a call for unity among the British colonies in advance of the French and Indian War, it was the first American political cartoon of lasting impact and later took on new meaning leading up to the American Revolution.
It has been reprinted widely since that period and adapted for different causes, including use by both the Union and the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War.
The May 9, 1754 Pennsylvania Gazette is on display in the “Pioneer Spirit” room at GEM, the first part of the museum's walk-through timeline of American history. Alongside it are other newspapers and an amazing selection of antique toys from the 1776-1894 era, setting the stage for the facility's other rooms.
“We're extremely pleased to offer this glimpse into our nation's history. We suspect the John Adams mini-series has opened many new minds to the importance and intensity of our past, and that's a fundamental part of our mission at GEM,” said Stephen A. Geppi, the museum's owner and chief executive officer. “The history of popular culture and the history of this country are inexorably linked, and the 'Join, or Die' cartoon shows this clearly. We hope everyone will come out and see it, along with the rest of our museum.”
Geppi's Entertainment Museum is located at 301 West Camden Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. It is situated in the historic Camden Station building within the Camden Yards sports complex, immediately across the street from the Baltimore Convention Center and next to Oriole Park, home of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. The 17,000-square-foot facility is just upstairs from another museum, Sports Legends at Camden Yards. More information is available at www.geppismusem.com or by calling (410) 625-7060.
The HBO mini-series John Adams is based on historian David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of our second President. It stars Paul Giamatti as John Adams, Laura Linney as Abigail Adams, and Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin, among other accomplished actors.
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