Political cartoon: The March of the Paxton Men, 1764
Photo courtesy of the...
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Photo courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia

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The etched cartoon has a serial composition, showing related events that Franklin observes from within his library: the curtain he pulls aside suggests that he is monitoring them in order to take advantage of the outcome.

On the left, the Quaker merchant Israel Pemberton, who was praised for his friendly overtures toward the Indians, is seen being overly friendly to a squaw. At the center, the terrified citizens of Philadelphia have drawn out a cannon and are preparing to defend themselves against the mob of several hundred Scotch-Irish frontiersmen who marched on the city.

Convinced that the Quaker establishment at the capitol, Philadelphia, was favoring the Indian tribes over the white settlers in order to keep peace, a group of vigilantes from the central Pennsylvania community of Paxtang slaughtered the last surviving members of the peaceful Susquehannock Indians, then turned toward Philadelphia.

The city already had a militia (raised by Franklin some years earlier). The militia, with Franklin at its head, went into the streets, confronted the mob, and negotiated a peace.

Below the cartoon is a cynical three-verse caption, ending in these lines which the cartoonist attributed to Franklin:

"Fight Dog! fight Bear! You're all my Friends / By you I shall attain my Ends / For I can never be content / Till I have got the Government. / But if from this Attempt I fall / Then let the Devil take you all."

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