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Cartoon Analysis: Property Protected—à la Françoise, 1798

Use this primary source imagery to analyze major events in history.

 Suggested Sequencing


The French Revolution posed one of the first great foreign policy challenges for the United States. As John Adams’s administration began in 1797, the French were already at war with most European powers, including Great Britain. Anxious to follow Washington’s example and maintain neutrality, Adams dispatched a delegation to France to negotiate with the French government to stop the French seizure of U.S. merchant ships. This delegation was the subject of this 1798 satirical print entitled “Property protected–à la Françoise” (meaning “in or according to the French manner”) by British artist Charles Williams. In the print, America is represented as a woman wearing a feathered headdress. The two men wearing feathered hats and cloaks on either side of America represent the directors of the French government. The three figures surrounding the large, treasure-laden “National Sack” wear the tricolored cockade or badge of the French Revolution on their hats. The two standing Frenchmen each hold a sack labeled “Extorted from Portugal” (left) and “Borrow’d pr [per] Force from Switzerland.” Across the English Channel, John Bull laughs at the scene atop “Shakespeare’s Cliff.” Look carefully at the cartoon for several minutes before answering the questions that follow.

Sourcing Questions

  1. Of what nationality was the artist of this cartoon)?
  2. How might his nationality have affected his point of view on the subject of this cartoon?
A political cartoon showing a group of people robbing a woman, while another group of people watches in the background.

1798 satirical print entitled Property Protected—à la Françoise(“in or according to the French manner”) by British artist Charles Williams

Comprehension Questions

  1. What evidence indicates the directors (the two men in hats and capes) are not to be trusted in their dealings with America?
  2. List at least three details in this print that depict the artist wanted to show France in a negative light.
  3. Who might the five figures near the shore represent? Explain your reasoning.

Historical Reasoning Questions

  1. Compare how this cartoon may have been received in the United States versus Great Britain, where it was produced.
  2. Explain how this cartoon places America’s Quasi-War with France in a global context.


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