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Sunday, May 11, 2014

British Resentment or the French fairly Coopt at Louisbourg, 1755


British Resentment or the French fairly Coopt at Louisbourg, Louis Pierre Boitard, 1755, Colonial Williamsburg.

Copies of this cartoon can be found at Williamsburg, the Walpole Library, the John Carter Brown Early American Images collection, the Library of Congress, and other major institutions. As Colonial Williamsburg is the only one of these to have a colorized image digitized, I'll be relying on their copy for my written descriptions, but the visual details will be drawn from the John Carter Brown copy.

Louisbourg had long been a target of the British in their wars against French Canada. This political cartoon by Boitard was counting chickens before they hatched. It would be another three years of war between the American and French colonies of North America.

There are a good number of sailors in this print, so we'll get right into it!


Starting from the left, there is a sailor at the base of the pyramid brandishing his cutlass and, in the words of Boitard, "pointing to the eclipse, & leering at a French Politician trapt by his own Schemes." This sailor wears a reversed cocked hat with narrow brim, held up by a skinny white loop. His single breasted jacket has mariners cuffs. The waistcoat beneath is white with narrow vertical red stripes over a white shirt. A pair of white slops and white stockings leading to pointed toe shoes with rectangular buckles complete his appearance. Peeking from beneath the petticoat trousers on his right leg is the tie that binds the breeches beneath.


In the foreground on the far right, conversing with a soldier, another tar sits by a cannon, where he "Squeezes the Gallic Cock by the throat, & makes him disgorge the French usurpations in America." His slop clothes are precisely those of his mate to the left, save that we cannot see his waistcoat, and he wears a yellow neckcloth which is spotted in the plain version, and may have red spots in the colorized, but the resolution is too low to be certain.


Behind the cannon "A Gang of brave Saylors [are] exulting at the Starving French coopt up." All of them wear slops and carry or wear cocked hats. Most of them brandish long sticks. The mariner up front wears a striped waistcoat just like that of the sailor by the pyramid. Among them, the least uniform is only differentiated from his mates by the brown jacket he wears. Interestingly, most had flap pockets on their waistcoats and jackets.

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