Thousands of metaphors and similes filled the debate over the ratification of the Constitution. Over 1,100 of these rhetorical devices have been located that specifically refer to the Constitution itself. Not until January 16, 1788, however, did these metaphors take on an actual visual image as the Massachusetts Centinel, a Boston weekly newspaper published by Benjamin Russell, printed a woodcut entitled “The Federal Pillars.” The illustration shows five columns connected one to another by an arch above a star. Each column, arranged left to right by order of ratification, contained an abbreviation of the name of the state that had already ratified the Constitution. A sixth pillar representing Massachusetts was shown being raised with the assistance of the hand of God. Beneath the pillars the Centinel printed: “united they stand—divided fall.”
Below this statement, appeared a paragraph that announced the “pleasing intelligence” of the unanimous ratification by Georgia, which thus added “a Fifth Column” “to the glorious fabrick.” (Georgia was actually the fourth state to ratify the Constitution.) It was hoped that Massachusetts would be the sixth. As each successive state ratified, the Centinel published a new illustration with an additional ratifying pillar as well as a new rising pillar.
Russell’s illustrations spawned a handful of others in the form using pillars and domes. The Charleston City Gazette printed a series of pillars connected by a dome with the trumpeted Greek Goddess Pheme (i.e., Fame) atop.
The pillars (or bases for future pillars) were arranged north to south, right to left. See CSAC website under “Popular Culture and Ratification: Illustrations Appearing in Newspapers” for more illustrations.