|Independence Day of the Future|
Independence Day, more usually known these days as the Fourth of July, has often been an occasion in this country for passing significant legislation or calling attention to inequalities.
According to the Library of Congress website:
"In 1859, the Banneker Institute of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, urged African Americans to celebrate Independence Day while bearing witness to the inconsistencies between the ideals espoused in the Declaration of Independence and the practice of slavery."
You can read more about that here.
Unlike many Puck illustrations, whose historical/political references don't ring bells with modern readers, this 1894 Independence Day print is pretty easy to read. When you don't know the specific political context or recognize the names, it's impossible to get the joke. But this one, like the Valentine's Day illustration I posted on my own blog, doesn't require historical scholarship. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions about what provoked it and what it says about attitudes of the time and whether or not we've come a long way since then.
Illustration courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.