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The Alternative Of Williams-Burg

Maker: Attributed to Philip Dawe
Date: February 16, 1775

This print shows colonial protest against the Intolerable Acts. In August 1774, Virginians were urged to sign a pledge of loyalty to the resolves of the Continental Congress and to stop the export of tobacco, the colonies' major and most profitable crop, until all taxes on imported goods were repealed. The pledge was known as the Williamsburg Resolutions.

The print shows the Capitol courtyard in Williamsburg, Virginia. Liberty fighters have suspended a plank across two tobacco barrels to serve as a table upon which the pledge has been placed for signing. One of the barrels is labeled tobacco, a gift intended for John Wilkes, lord mayor of London, in appreciation for his support of colonial causes. Some of the colonists seem reluctant to sign the pledge, because stopping the export of tobacco would cause them great financial loss. The alternative is obvious: behind the table, suspended from the gallows, are barrels of tar and feathers.

Source: Joan D. Dolmetsch, Rebellion and Reconciliation: Satirical Prints on the Revolution at Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Va. 1976), pp. 78-79.


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