RCL #4 Blog

1. “Don’t tread on me”
2. Explain brief history
a. The snake on the flag is inspired by Ben Franklin’s “Join or Die” political cartoon depicting a rattlesnake cut into pieces representing the colonies. The symbol of the flag accompanied by the phrase “Don’t tread on me” was first seen on the drums of a few marine units during the revolutionary war. Named after a colonel in the continental Army, Christopher Gadsden the flag came about when the colonel chose a man named Esek Hopkins to be the commander-in-chief of the Navy. On one of Gadsden’s ships, Hopkins flew the flag that would become known today as the Gadsden Flag.

1. Why was the artifact necessary? (What was/is the artifact responding to?)
The flag was originally necessary as a symbol to stand up to British tyranny. It was intended to be a symbol of American strength, willpower, unity, and liberty.

2.Has the need for the artifact changed over time?
The flag has gone from a military jack and symbol to protest the British rule, to a symbol of American strength and a symbol of liberty.

3. Does the artifact have different meanings for different groups of people?
a. The flag is often incorporated into the Tea Party movement. Due to its association with the Tea Party some people view the flag as a racist symbol.
b. The flag is also often incorporated in libertarian movements. Part of the symbolism behind the rattlesnake was to not initiate force but to be strong in defending yourself, a common libertarian belief.

4.What commonplaces are embedded in the artifact? Or, how does the artifact comment on commonplaces?
Commonplaces embedded in the Gadsden flag are the value and belief in American freedom and liberty. American’s love to talk about freedom. The flag is often used in response from overbearing government.

5. What makes the artifact “civic?” How does the artifact frame the civic?
A. The flag is civic in the fact that it started as a flag of protest to government control and policy and it continues to be a symbol of those same ideals. Although we’re not in a physical war like we were against Britain many can say we’re in a sort of  political war against higher taxes, liberty restrictions and forced unwanted laws and policies.


1. To be civic is to be able to question the actions and policies of your own government. The Gadsden flag stands for and can be used exactly for that. What better way to be civic than to actively question overbearing policies and laws? What better way to be civic than to stand for liberty?


“KnifeUp.” The Knife News Magazine, 2014, www.knifeup.com/dont-tread-on-me-what-it-means-today/.


Gadsden Flag History, gadsden.info/history.html.

One thought on “RCL #4 Blog

  1. I liked your artifacts and it seemed to be interesting historical topic to take a deeper reflection on. For the necessity of the flag, I think it is a little overlapped with the history part of your artifacts. I like your idea that to include different meanings towards two different groups you mentioned in your outline. Does it related to the of commonplaces categories too? Since two different groups of people could form two different commonplaces for the artifacts and this could added to your rhetoric approach for this artifacts. It seemed like you don’t have enough content to talk about the rhetoric aspects of your artifacts besides commonplaces. Also, the class will be your audience and it is important to make it somehow connects to us and make this interesting. Good job and I am looking forward to your speech!

    Ruiqi Yin

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