America was not alone in the wilderness, of course, as it embarked on nationhood. In 1789 it was surrounded by British, Spanish, and Indian adversaries. Conflicts on the continent and the high seas led to full-scale war with Britain and a "quasi-war" with France. American troops fought Indians on the frontier, British on the Great Lakes, and north African pirates in the Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. bought land from France, won land from Britain, and negotiated land from Spain. And every move was controversial, spawning vociferous dissent from the populace, politicians, and the press. Yet the faith in freedom of expression was so central to the national vision that even Jefferson, who was viciously maligned by the press while president, wrote that "the only security of all is in a free press. . . . The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure."
In this collection are three examples of that "agitation" directed at Jefferson's foreign policy. The last two cartoons, from the War of 1812, direct their satire at America's European enemies instead of the presidents who direct foreign policy. Highly useful in the classroom. 8 pages (cartoons plus annotations).
||How are national symbols used to voice dissent as well as patriotism?|
||How will such dissent "keep the waters pure," as Jefferson states?|
||What aspects of foreign affairs attracted the most public scrutiny, as seen in these cartoons?|
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Is editorial cartooning more or less strident today, based on these examples? (See seven more cartoons of the era under Supplemental Sites on the Link Page.)|