This famous name was coined by Captain William Driver, a shipmaster of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1831. As he was leaving on one of his many voyages aboard the brig CHARLES DOGGETT - and this one would climax with the rescue of the mutineers of the BOUNTY - some friends presented him with a beautiful flag of twenty four stars. As the banner opened to the ocean breeze for the first time, he exclaimed "Old Glory!" He retired to Nashville in 1837, taking his treasured flag from his sea days with him. By the time the Civil War erupted, most everyone in and around Nashville recognized Captain Driver's "Old Glory." When Tennesee seceded from the Union, Rebels were determined to destroy his flag, but repeated searches revealed no trace of the hated banner. Then on February 25th, 1862, Union forces captured Nashville and raised the American flag over the capital. It was a rather small ensign and immediately folks began asking Captain Driver if "Old Glory" still existed. Happy to have soldiers with him this time, Captain Driver went home and began ripping at the seams of his bedcover. As the stitches holding the quilt-top to the batting unraveled, the onlookers peered inside and saw the 24-starred original "Old Glory"! Captain Driver gently gathered up the flag and returned with the soldiers to the capitol. Though he was sixty years old, the Captain climbed up to the tower to replace the smaller banner with his beloved flag. The Sixth Ohio Regiment cheered and saluted - and later adopted the nickname "Old Glory" as their own, telling and re-telling the story of Captain Driver's devotion to the flag we honor yet today. Captain Driver's grave is located in the old Nashville City Cemetery, and is one of three (3) places authorized by act of Congress where the Flag of the United States may be flown 24 hours a day. Visible in the photo in the lower right corner of the canton is an appliqued anchor, Captain Driver's very personal note. "Old Glory" is the most illustrious of a number of flags - both Northern and Confederate - reputed to have been similarly hidden, then later revealed as times changed. The flag was given to his granddaughter or neice and she later donated it to the Smithsonian. " 'Old Glory' may no longer be photographed, and no good color photograph is available."
Elizabeth Griscom Ross (1752-1836), was a Philadelphia seamstress, married to John Ross, an upholsterer who was killed in a munitions explosion in 1776. She kept the upholstery shop going and lived on Arch Street, not too far from the State House on Chestnut, where history was being made almost every day. According to most historians, she has been incorrectly credited with designing the first Stars and Stripes. The story has enormous popularity, yet the facts do not substantiate it. Lets begin with the legend itself.
George Washington was a frequent visitor to the home of Mrs. Ross before receiving command of the army. She embroidered his shirt ruffles and did many other things for him. He knew her skill with a needle. Now the General of the Continental Army, George Washington appeared on Mrs. Ross's dooorstep around the first of June, 1776, with two representatives of Congress, Colonel Ross and Robert Morris. They asked that she make a flag according to a rough drawing they carried with them. At Mrs.Ross's suggestion, Washington redrew the flag design in pencil in her back parlor to employ stars of five points instead of six. ("Her version" of the flag for the new republic was not used until six years later.)
This account of the creation of our first flag was first brought to light in 1870 by one of her grandsons, William J. Canby, at a meeting of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. This took place 94 years after the event supposedly took place! Mr. Canby was a boy of eleven years when Mrs. Ross died in his home.
In the many years since the story was told, numerous historians have conducted vigorous searches into extant government records, personal diaries,and writings of Washington and his contemporaries and none of them have been able to verify the claims of Canby. One verifiable fact is this; the minutes of the State Navy Board of Pennsylvania for May 29, 1777, say in part "An order on William Webb to Elizabeth Ross for fourteen pounds twelve shillings, and two pence, for making ship's colours,&c, put into Richards store". The minutes show that Elizabeth Ross made ship's colors for Pennsylvania state ships. Some of the facts, among others, that have been discovered by this research that cast doubt on Canby's claim are these; He asserted that the stars and stripes were in common if not general use soon after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, nearly a year before the resolution of Congress proclaiming the flag. There is no record of the flag being discussed or of a committee being appointed for the design of the flag in either the Journals of the Continental Congress or the diaries and writings of Washington around this time. Meetings with Colonel Ross and Robert Morris cannot be documented. Further, it is illogical to assume that Washington was present at the alleged meeting with Betsy Ross on the design of the flag when it is known that he wanted a national standard made for the use of the army in 1779.
But I think that the question that begs to be asked is; Why have so many generations of Americans come to accept this legend as fact? After Canby's death, a book written by his brother George Canby and nephew Lloyd Balderson was published in 1909. The book, The Evolution of the American Flag, presented in more detail the claims for Betsy Ross made by William Canby in 1870. Among other things, the authors describe the formation of the Betsy Ross Memorial Association, and reproduced a painting by Charles H. Weisgerber depicting the alleged meeting of the committee of Congress with Betsy Ross. The picture, entitled Birth of Our Nations Flag, is actually a composite portrait made up of from pictures of her granddaughters and other decendants. The artist took liberties with history by painting the stars in the flag in a circle. This painting, incidently, stirred a great deal of public interest in the subject when it was first exibited, at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Following this, money to purchase the Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia was raised by selling ten-cent subscriptions to the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association, incorporated in 1898. Each contributor received a certificate of membership that included a picture of the house, her grave in Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia, and a color reproduction of the Weisberger painting. This campaign gave the legend wide publicity and the Weisberger painting was reproduced in school history textbooks thoughout the United States!
In the days of Betsy Ross we did not have the benefit of a frenetic press corps to witness, probe, and record the events of the day. Careful historians do not accept the legend and neither should we. At the same time, there often seems to be a wistful regret, best expressed, perhaps, by President Woodrow Wilson when asked his opinion of the story. He replied, "Would that it were true!"
The First Official United States Flag: This 13-Star Flag became the Official United States Flag on June14th, 1777 and is the result of the congressional action that took place on that date. Much evidence exists pointing to Congressman Francis Hopkinson as the person responsible for its design.The only President to serve under this flag was George Washington (1789-1797). This Flag was to last for a period of 18 years.
Each star and stripe represented a Colony of which there were thirteen, united nearly one year earlier by the Declaration of Independence. The thirteen Colonies are listed below with the date that each ratified the Constitution and became a State.
The Continental Colors Flag
Although unofficial, the Continental Colors is considered to be the first American flag. It was used from 1775-1777, preceding the Betsy Ross flag and aiding in its design. The Continental Colors includes a field of 13 alternating red and white stripes with a British Union Jack in the canton. Records show that Philadelphia seamstress Margaret Manny sewed the first Continental Colors for the Alfred, and in December of 1775, the flag was raised for the first time on any fighting vessel. A year later, the flag was considered the official flag of the American naval forces by the Maritime Committee of the Continental Congress. On New Year’s Day in 1776, George Washington ordered the Continental Colors to be raised on Prospect Hill in Somerville, Massachusetts in celebration of the birth of the Continental Army. Although many flags protesting British rule were in existence at that time, including those with icons of snakes, pine trees and the word "liberty", Washington choose to use the Continental Colors. It was hoisted on a 76 foot flagpole and could be seen all the way in Boston. Washington referred to the flag as the "Union Flag in Compliment to the United Colonies." It was also known as the Grand Union flag, the Union flag, the Continental flag, the Somerville flag and the Great Union. The flag’s designer is unknown, but it is speculated that Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Lynch and Benjamin Harrison were responsible. They were appointed by Continental Congress to advise George Washington in creating the Continental Army in 1775.
The rattlesnake was the favorite animal emblem of the Americans even before the Revolution. In 1751 Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette carried a bitter article protesting the British practice of sending convicts to America. The author suggested tht the colonists return the favor by shipping "a cargo of rattlesnakes, which could be distributed in St. James Park, Spring Garden, and other places of pleasure, and particularly in the noblemen's gardens." Three years later the same paper printed the picture (as seen above) of a snake as a commentary on the Albany Congress. To remind the delegates of the danger of disunity, the serpent was shown cut to pieces. Each segment is marked with the name of a colony, and the motto "Join or Die" below. Other newspapers took up the snake theme. By 1774 the segments of the snake had grown together, and the motto had been changed to read: "United Now Alive and Free Firm on this Basis Liberty Shall Stand and Thus Supported Ever Bless Our Land Till Time Becomes Eternity"
The Gadsden Flag: The American Revolutionary period was a time of intense but controlled individualism - when self-directing responsible individuals again and again decided for themselves what they should do, and did it- without needing anyone else to give them an assignment or supervise them in carrying it out. Such a person was the patriot Colonel Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina. He had seen and liked a bright yellow banner with a hissing, coiled rattlesnake rising up in the center, and beneath the serpent the same words that appeared on the Striped Rattlesnake Flag - Don't Tread On Me. Colonel Gadsden made a copy of this flag and submitted the design to the Provincial Congress in South Carolina. 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. Hopkins captured large stores of British cannon and military supplies in the Bahamas. His cruise marked the salt-water baptism of the American Navy, and it saw the first landing of the Corps of Marines, on whose drums the Gadsden symbol was painted.
The 1st Navy Jack: One of the first flags flown by our Navy may have been an adaptation of the "Rebellious Stripes" created at the time of the Stamp Act Congress. It featured thirteen red and white stripes. Stretched across them was the rippling form of a rattlesnake, and the words, "DON'T TREAD ON ME"- a striking indication of the colonists' courage and fierce desire for independence. The flag we know today as the first Navy Jack (sometimes known as the "Culpepper Flag") is believed to have flown aboard the Alfred, flagship of the newly commissioned Continental fleet, in January, 1776. American ships used this flag, or one of its variations, throughout the Revolutionary War. This powerful American symbol was used by the Continental Navy in 1776 and is being used again by the U.S. Navy in the War on Terrorism.
The Grand Union 1775: Also known as the Continental flag, it is the first true U.S. Flag. It combined the British King's Colours and the thirteen stripes signifying Colonial unity. George Washington liked this design so well that he chose it to be flown to celebrate the formation of the Continental Army on New Years Day, 1776. On that day the Grand Union Flag was proudly raised on Prospect Hill in Somerville, near his headquarters at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Bennington Flag: Used in the Battle of Bennington, August 16, 1777, by Vermont militia. This flag is the first to lead American armed forces on land. The original is preserved in the museum at Bennington, Vermont.
He was born John Paul in Scotland in 1747 and went to sea when he was only twelve years old. By the time he arrived in Philadelphia in 1775 as an experienced sea captain, he had changed his name to John Paul Jones.
After conducting sea raids on the coast of Britain, he took command in 1779 of a rebuilt French merchant ship, renamed the U.S.S.Bonhomme Richard to honor Benjamin Franklin. On September 23, 1779, Jones engaged the British frigate Serapis in the North Sea, daringly sailing in close, lashing his vessel to the British ship, and fighting the battle at point-blank range. During the fight two of his cannon burst, and the British captain asked Jones if he was ready to surrender. Replied Jones: "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight." The American crew finally boarded the Serapis after the British had struck her colors, and from the deck of the Serapis they watched the U.S.S.Bonhomme Richard sink into the North Sea.
The Guilford Flag: This unusual flag was made with thirteen 8-pointed stars in a wide field. Historical records report this flag carried by North Carolina militiamen at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, March 17,1781.
The Bunker Hill Flag
Volumes have been written about the battle of Bunker Hill, but we have no real knowledge that any American Flag was flown in this battle. John Trumbull, whose paintings of Revolutionary War scenes are widely famous, was an eye-witness and his subsequent drawings depicting the battle prominently displayed this flag.
The Bedford Flag
When the minute men gathered at Concord Bridge on April 19, 1775, to face the British, this colorful banner waved over them. The square shape was typical of cavalry flags at the time. Emerson wrote of that battle: "By the Rude Bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April's breeze unfurled, here once the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard around the world." Today the "First Flag of the Revolution" may still be seen at the Bedford Library in Bedford, Massachusetts. This priceless relic is the oldest flag in the United States.
The Green Mountain Boys Flag
Early on May 10, 1775, Ethan Allen and a small force of Green Mountain Boys stole silently into the British-held Fort Ticonderoga and demanded its surrender. The captured cannon and mortars were taken that winter across the rugged New England Mountains. Their installation of the heights above Boston enabled Washington to force the British to leave that seaport. "The Green Mountain Boys" carried this flag at the Battle of Bennington.
The Fort Moultrie Flag
The "Moultrie" Flag was designed in 1775, and flew over Fort Moultrie (then Ft. Sullivan) in Charleston Harbour. This flag was shot away by the British in a battle in 1776. This was the flag of the South Carolina "Minute men."
The Rhode Island Flag
This flag is believed to be the first flag to use stars and to represent the thirteen colonies. The Rhode Island regiment carried this flag in the battles of "Brandywine," "Trenton," and "Yorktown." The original flag may still be seen today in the state capitol in Providence, Rhode Island.
The First Continental Regiment Flag
In the early days of the Revolutionary War, each military unit chose its own flag. The banner of the First Continental Regiment, composed of Pennsylvania Militia, is one of the earliest in use. It was displayed at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1775 and was carried through the war. The original of this historic fla is preserved today in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In the process of renovating it for bicentennial display, experts recently discovered that the exposed side of the flag was actually the "back." The flag has been in accurately illustrated and described in reference books for more than 100 years.
Immediately after declaring independence on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress constituted a committee consisting of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson to propose a design for a seal for the new United States of America. It was not until June 20, 1782, however, following the fruitless efforts of this and two other committees, that Congress approved a design recommended by its Secretary, Charles Thomson. Following the adoption of the Constitution of 1787, Congress enacted a law confirming this design as the great seal of the United States. The obverse of the seal consists of the coat of arms, which is officially blazoned in the original approving legislation as:
"ARMS. Paleways of thirteen pieces, argent and gules; a chief, azure; the escutcheon on the breast of the American eagle displayed proper, holding in his dexter talon an olive branch, and in his sinister a bundle of thirteen arrows, all proper, and in his beak a scroll, inscribed with this motto, E Pluribus Unum.For the CREST. Over the head of the eagle, which appears above the escutcheon, a glory, or, breaking through a cloud, proper, and surrounding thirteen stars, forming a constellation argent, on an azure field."
Thomson's explanation of the symbolism was also approved by the Continental Congress:
The motto is translated, "Out of many, one."Date of Adoption is 20 June 1782, when Congress adopted the report of the committee that designed the seal (of which the COA constitutes the obverse). The 7 July 1884 date is nothing more than the date of the act by which the Secretary of State was appropriated $1,000 to buy new dies for the seal. The only substantive legislation on the COA since 1782 was an act of Congress under the current Constitution, passed on 15 September 1789, stating that "the seal heretofore used by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be, and hereby is declared to be, the seal of the United States."
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDANCE
Historical Background: On July 2, 1776, in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress adopted the resolution, introduced by Richard Henry Lee and John Adams, which actually declared independence from Great Britain. [It declared, in part, ``that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.'' The Declaration, which explained why the Colonies (now States) declared their independence, was adopted by the Continental Congress July 4, 1776. [The leading draftsman was Thomas Jefferson, assisted by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman.
The Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776 The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For quartering large bodies of armed troops amoung us: For protecting them by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury: For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences: For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies: For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. He has abdicated Government here by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends. We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare. That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
The signers of the Declaration represented the new States as follows:
As an Army and Navy custom, the flag is lowered daily at the last note of retreat. Special care should be taken that no part of the flag touches the ground. The Flag is then carefully folded into the shape of a tri-cornered hat, emblematic of the hats worn by colonial soldiers during the war for Independence. In the folding, the red and white stripes are finally wrapped into the blue, as the light of day vanishes into the darkness of night.
To properly fold the Flag, begin by holding it waist-high with another person so that its surface is parallel to the ground.
Fold the lower half of the stripe section lengthwise over the field of stars, holding the bottom and top edges securely.
Fold the flag again lengthwise with the blue field on the outside.
Make a triangular fold by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open (top) edge of the flag.
Turn the outer (end) point inward, parallel to the open edge, to form a second triangle.
The triangular folding is continued until the entire length of the flag is folded in this manner.
When the flag is completely folded, only a triangular blue field of stars should be visible.
Here is a typical sequence of the reading:
Create a Free Website