During my recent visit to the Museum of the American Revolution I was made aware of a Revolutionary symbol which I’d never before encountered.
Many people are aware of Benjamin Franklin’s “Join, or Die” political drawing. It features a snake cut into pieces, each piece corresponding to one of the colonies 1. It was a brilliant piece of political propaganda, which exemplifies the American Penchant to be provoked toward a positive end from negative imagery 2. In fact, negative imagery from the Revolutionary War is still in use today. The image of a coiled copperhead, ready to strike, has once again become popular. Above the image is the warning to challengers, “Don’t tread on me.”
What I had not known is there was also a positive image being utilized to convey the united plight of the fledgling states. The “Chain of States” was printed on a Continental Half-Dollar and incorporated thirteen interlocking circles, each one representing one of the original states. In the center are the words “WE ARE ONE,” themselves encircled by the words, “AMERICAN CONGRESS.” This image evoked both a sense of unity and the eternity of a circle. It is the very definition of positive propaganda.
That it fell into general obscurity says a great deal about the nature of humanity.
The more I pondered the meaning of this symbol, the more I realized the time for it to re-emerge as an image of American Unity has come. While much current political propaganda is focused on projecting defiance, the Chain of States projects the strength of a unity linked together by individual identity, rather than in spite of it. I was so taken by this symbol I purchased a hat with it emblazoned on its face.
If we are to come through the current political upheavals of our culture we need to figure out a way to join the individual identities which make up our populace 3 together into a linked circle. Each remaining distinct, but also aware on its dependance on the others.
We are one.