The Gadsen Flag
Eric Desmond From Atlantic Funding here. I spoke with you in the past about
historical speeches, etc. You are flying the "Don't tread on me " flag on
Good choice. Please remind me why there is a snake on the flag. I
cannot remember the reason. And didn't the colonists have a few different
(flying at the masthead on the website and our up-graded version)
Thank you. I have been waiting for someone to ask me. I ran it
right after September 11 for about a month. It is known as the "Gadsen"
flag. You are right on about the colonists having many different flags.
The yellow flag with the rattlesnake in parts above "Don't Tread on Me" was
the first official American Flag. It was adopted by Colonel Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina, who had it approved by the South Carolina Congress. It was first flown by Commodore Esek Hopkins, commander of the new Continental fleet, carried a similar flag in February, 1776, when his ships put to sea for the first time. On January 4,1776 it was flown as he landed in Bermuda and recognized as an American. This is considered the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War.
If there was a popular saying in the colonies, it was "Don't Tread on Me." This was aimed at the British, the Dutch, the French, the Spanish and others who were fighting to claim the new world as theirs. The settlers were a mixture, who fled the lifestyle of Europe and wanted to change their life: freedom, not rule
by a monarch ( dictator.) One of the first things they did was to change
the inheritance law. In Europe, everything went to the eldest son. In
America, it was divided among all the males (and sometimes women were
First of all, social customs and things were different at the end of the 18th century. Yellow was not a "warning sign,” as it is today, but the most popular color for a flag.
Rattlesnakes did not have the meaning that they have today, as the population had not moved out past Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio, including Louisiana and Texas, who were not even territories at the time. The rattlesnake was one of Benjamin Franklin's and New England's favorite symbols. It was on many flags.
There were many farmers who found the reptile catching rodents, gophers, and they were used often as symbols on our flags and literature---not the connotation we have today from Westerns on TV and the movies.
As I said, things were quite different in those days. The early ports of
commerce for Europe was Bermuda. It was also a favorite “pirate” hide out
as it was in the main lane of commerce between the United States and Europe.
Hopkins captured large stores of British cannon and military in the
first naval battle of the Revolutionary War. He made a statement, but
his original mission was another port. His name is not popular grammar
school American history because he was censured by Congress for the Bermuda “invasion” and dismissed from the Navy for not following
orders. His explanation was the weather and ice, and he was supported
by President John Adams. He was not supposed to engage in military
action in the Bahama's. By the way, he was replaced by Lieutenant John Paul Jones ( yes, the same one who said: "I have not yet begun to fight,." but that
is another story for This Day in American History.
As an additional point, military troops of the day carried the Gadsen flag. The official stars and stripes was to come much later, and in reality, not adopted and changed to the format we know today where stars represent the states ( not stripes) until the early 19th century. By 1818, the union consisted of 20 states. A Congressional act on April 4th mandated that the number of stripes be fixed at 13 and that one new star was to be added for each new state, the July 4 following its admission. However, nothing was written about what arrangement the stars should be in. We had the “Grand Star” flag for a while ( the stars were layered out in the form of a star) or staggered or not in rows. During the course of the Civil War,
stars were not deleted, although the states succeeded. Stars also were not added
the same year each state joined the union, as Congress became the body to make the proclamation.
Pledge of Allegiance" first published in a magazine called "The Youth's Companion." Authorship was claimed for James B. Upham and Francis Bellamy. In 1939 the United States Flag Association ruled that Bellamy was the author of the original pledge. The words, "under God" were added on June 14, 1954. In pledging allegiance to the flag, stand with the right hand over the heart or at attention. Men remove their headdress. Persons in uniform give the military salute. All pledge together: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”