The Gadsden Flag, like Franklin’s “Join or Die”, is an older symbol, dating from 1775. The flag in and of itself is not necessarily a cartoon, but it has enough meaning and symbolism behind it that it can be considered as such. Plus, we have to address the 2017 rekindling of the Gadsden Flag, which was a meme-phenomenon.
It would be almost unfair to create a political cartoon blog without talking about what is widely considered to be the first American political cartoon: Ben Franklin’s “Join or Die.”
To kick this blog off, I’m going to talk about William “Boss” Tweed and Thomas Nast. Tweed and Nast go together like peanut butter and jelly, if peanut butter was a notoriously corrupt politician and jelly was the father of American political cartoons. Regardless, these men are arguably the basis of political cartoons in this country, so they’re a great starting point.