joy magnetism: Snake in the grass

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snake in the grass

Magnet #1023 - American Rattlesnake

Got this magnet as part of my Alexander Hamilton exhibit magnet set from the New-York Historical Society.

It's a British political cartoon attributed to James Gillray in the 1780s, just after two British armies had surrendered to the colonies - General Burgoyne at Saratoga in 1777 and General Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781.

Two things I didn't know until this year: First, those failed peace talks I mentioned before, between the colonies and the Brits, peace talks that took place on Staten Island at the Conference House. Second, that not all Brits wanted to keep our little colonies. That's what this cartoon suggests, that they wouldn't win.

You can't read the full piece, here, but the original cartoon includes the following narrative:

“Britons within the Yankeean Plains,
Mind how ye March & Trench,
The Serpent in the Congress reigns,
As well as in the French.”

There's also a sign on the snake's tail, mentioning an apartment for rent for military folks.

And then the actual snake says, "Two British Armies I have thus Burgoyn’d, And room for more I’ve got behind.”

Oddly, for me, the snake this small looks a lot more dreadful, than it does up close. Though, when you see the image all blown up (page 15 of this PDF), you can see the snark drawn right on the snake's face.
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