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 American Revolution: British Political Cartoons

American Revolution:
British Political Cartoons

170 British political cartoons dating from 1766 to 1787 referencing the American Revolution.


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British Cartoons American Revolution SQUARE

The drawings show early rebelliousness in the American Colony, open Revolution, and the aftermath of England's loss of the colony. The earliest illustration from 1766 depicts the end of the stamp act of 1765. Features several illustrations by the famous British caricaturist James Gillray. The prints often show satirical expressions of English views of the American Revolution. The drawing give representations of the Boston Tea Party, the Stamp Act, The French aligning with the upstart American colony, harsh treatment of loyalists, The economic of the cost of the war and cost of losing the American colony, and the practice of tar and feather. America is often depicted as a rattlesnake, an American Indian, a buffalo, or a wild horse. Many illustrations were reproduced at the time in London magazine and The Westminster magazine.

Caricatures in the illustrations includes: George Washington, King George III, Charles Cornwallis, Admiral Richard Howe, General William Howe, Count de Rochambeau, Horatio Gates, William Pitt, Charles James Fox, George Grenville, Lord Sandwich, Lord Bute, Edmund Burke, Lord Shelburne, Lord North, John Wilkes, Augustus Keppel, Charles Lee, Esek Hopkins, Lord Thurlow, John Dunning, George Germain, Earl of Mansfield, Lord Rockingham, General Burgoyne, and others.

Highlights among the collection include:

A March 18, 1766, cartoon titled, "The repeal or the funeral of Miss Ame-stamp." Print shows a funeral procession on the banks of the Thames, with warehouses in a line in the background, one of which is inscribed "The Sheffield and Birmingham Warehouse Goods now ship'd for America." George Grenville carries a coffin inscribed "Miss Ame-stamp B. 1765 died 1766." On the quay are two large bales, one of which is inscribed, "Stamps from America", i.e., stamps returned to England as no longer needed, because of the repeal of the Stamp Act. The other is marked, "black cloth from America", intended for the funeral procession which follows.

A May 1, 1774 print titled, "The able doctor; or America swallowing the bitter draught." Cartoon shows Lord North, with the "Boston Port Bill" extending from a pocket, forcing tea (the Intolerable Acts) down the throat of a partially draped Native female figure representing "America" whose arms are restrained by Lord Mansfield, while Lord Sandwich, a notorious womanizer, restrains her feet and peeks up her skirt. Britannia, standing behind "America", turns away and shields her face with her left hand.
A print dated October 31, 1774, titled, "The Bostonian's paying the excise-man, or tarring & feathering." Print shows five men forcing a tarred and feathered customs officer to drink from a teapot, a bucket and a liberty cap are on the ground at his feet. They stand beneath the "Liberty Tree" from which a rope with a noose hangs; in the background, shadowy figures on a ship dump tea overboard.

A January 1, 1775 cartoon title, "The council of the rulers, & the elders against the tribe of ye Americanites." Print shows a group of men in the Hall of Commons, several seated around a table, on the wall is a map labeled "North America" which has burst into flames, in the foreground stands Lord North passing banknotes to a man probably on the "List of the King's friends" which extends from North's pocket; on the right stands Lord Mayor Wilkes of London pointing out North to another man who stands on his left.

A 1775 print titled, "The congress or the necessary politicians." Print shows two men sitting in a privy, one uses pieces of the "Resolution[s] of the [C]ongress" to clean himself, while the other intently reads "P[amphlet En]titled Taxation [No] Tir[anny]", suggesting that while one studies the literature, the other responds accordingly. On the wall behind them hangs a print of William Pitt, tarred and feathered.

An April 19, 1776 illustration titled "Bunkers Hill or America's head dress." Print shows a half-length portrait of a woman, right profile, with exaggerated coiffure supporting three redoubts with infantry and artillery firing at close range, tents, an artillery train, and a sea battle involving two or three ships; large flags flying over the redoubts are decorated with a monkey, two women, and a goose complete her hairdo.

A September 1, 1776 illustration titled, "Miss Carolina Sulivan - one of the obstinate daughters of America, 1776." Cartoon shows Sullivan's Island, portrayed as a head-and-shoulders portrait of a woman who looks like William Pitt, right profile, with large hairdo meant to conceal fortifications, cannons, and several battle flags.

An April, 1777 print titled, "Poor old England endeavoring to reclaim his wicked American children." Print shows England as an old man with wooden leg and crutch tugging on strings hooked onto the noses of five American men across a divide labeled "The Atlantic Ocean"; the men resist, shoot pellets at, and taunt old England. Includes a quote attributed to Shakespeare, "And therefore is England maimed & forc'd to go with a staff".

An October 10, 1777 cartoon titled, "The conference between the brothers how to get rich." Print shows Admiral Richard Howe and General William Howe seated at a table discussing how to profit from the war in America. The Devil stands between them and answers their question, "... [H]ow shall we get rich" by saying, "How, How, continue the war."

A May 15th, 1780 illustration by James Gillray titled, "Argus." Print shows George III seated in a chair asleep, on the left stands a judge (possibly the Earl of Mansfield) with his left hand on the crown, behind the throne stands the Earl of Bute, speaking to Mansfield, he says "What shall be done with it?" to which Mansfield responds "Wear it Your sel my Leard," to the right of Bute stands America (represented by a Native wearing a feathered headdress), on the right stands a gentleman with both hands on the crown, he says "No troth I'se carry it to Charly & hel not part with it again Mon!" (probably a reference to Charles Edward the Pretender). On the far left a ragged merchant wrings his hands and an Irishman with harp departs the scene, and on the far right, in the foreground, Britannia sits in slumber with a lion asleep and chained to the ground beside her, and in the background, a Dutchman raids the beehives.

A December 8, 1782 cartoon titled, "The belligerent plenipo's." Cartoon shows America represented by an Indian, celebrating her new acquisition, half of the English king's crown, while her allies, the King of France, a Dutchman, and a Spaniard complain at having received no compensation for their support, represented by injuries resulting in missing body parts which lay at the feet of King George III, standing on the left. Ireland, represented by an angelic figure floating in the clouds, demands it's own constitutional freedom."

A February 11, 1783 print titled, "Peace porridge all hot - the best to be got." Print shows an Englishman and servant offering bowls of "peace porridge" to a Frenchman, a Spaniard, a Dutchman, and a Native woman representing America. The Native says, "I rest Contented with a dish of Independant Soup." Includes text of a song sung to the tune of "Roast Beef of Old England."

A February 24, 1783 print titled, "Blessed are the peacemakers." Print shows two men representing Spain and France leading George III by a rope attached to his neck and Lord Shelburne through a gateway formed by spears, from the crossbar of which are tumbling the British lion, a crown, and unicorn. Shelburne is followed by a man who carries a scourge with thirteen lashes labeled "America" and leading, by rope attached to his neck, a surly Dutchman. Their destination is a building labeled "Inquisition" at the top of a hill.





Print shows Lord Bute aiming a blunderbuss at a man representing colonial America; a member of Parliament, pointing at the American, tells Bute "I give you that man's money for my use", to which the American responds by saying, "I will not be robbed". On the right, blindfolded, Britannia is about to stumble into "The pit prepared for others" while behind her, in the background, "The English Protestant town of Boston" is in flames. On the left kneels a monk holding a gibbet and a cross, behind him stands a Frenchman with sword raised; perched on a cliff and forming the backdrop to Bute, the monk, and the Frenchman, is the city of Quebec.

Published: April 1. 1775










The Curious Zebra - Alive From America! Walk in Gem'men and Ladies, Walk in

Cartoon shows a group of men, including George Washington who is standing to the right holding the tail of the zebra, and Lord North, standing on the left gripping the reins, trying to guide the zebra on whose stripes are the names of the thirteen colonies.

Published: September 3, 1778





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