Today we celebrate Flag Day in commemoration of the day that the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States. In honor of this historic occasion, here is some history of our nation’s flag.
In 1775, there was no official flag for the American colonies. In fact, at this time there were at least 5 different flags flown by different groups or locations.
The Liberty Tree flag was flown on some American ships in the New England area. It was also flown on board George Washington’s personal schooner.
The Don’t Tread on Me flag was flown by the Continental Navy in 1775.
The Sons of Liberty flag had been flown for several years prior to 1775. They were a group of colonists who protested the British policies of taxation without representation.
The New England flag was flown by colonists in various New England locations who supported the American colonies instead of the British.
Some historians believe that the Forester flag is the oldest or first true flag that represented the 13 colonies. It is the flag that was carried by the Minutemen when they marched into the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 which officially launched the Revolutionary War.
On January 1, 1776, newly appointed Commander of the Continental Army, George Washington commissioned the Grand Union flag consisting of the 13 red and white stripes with the British Union Jack in the canton (the upper corner).
Allegedly, in May 1776, Betsy Ross sewed the flag with the 13 red and white stripes with a circle of 13 stars in the canton. However, there is virtually no historical evidence to support the claim that this version of the flag originated with Betsy Ross and many historians doubt the truth of the legend. Some historians point to Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence from New Hersey as being the person responsible for placing the stars in the canton. He also is credited with helping to design the Great Seal of the United States and other government emblems and devices.
In early 1777, several versions of the flag were made. Among them was the Cowpens flag, used by the Third Maryland Regiment. It was similar to the ‘Ross’ flag except it had a star in the center of the circle of stars.
On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress officially adopted the ‘Ross’ flag, also referred to as the Stars and Stripes, as the flag of the United States of America. The resolution read:
“Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
On this day, September 3, 1777, the newly adopted official flag of the United States of America, the Stars and Stripes, flew in battle at Cooch’s Bridge, Maryland. Patriot General William Maxwell ordered the new Stars and Stripes be hoisted as his cavalry and infantry tried to establish a defensive line at Cooch’s Bridge. An advanced force of British and Hessian troops met the Patriots and eventually forced the Patriots to retreat to Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania where Patriot General George Washington was positioned with the main body of his Continental Army.
Many variations of the US flag have flown since that time and Congress has had to pass different laws to allow for the recognition of additional states without the flag becoming too large or cumbersome.
One of my prized possessions is a 48-star US flag made in 1943 that flew on board the US Navy ship my dad served on in the Pacific during World War II. Even though my dad was an enlisted sailor, he made friends with the captain and when the ship was mothballed after the war, the captain presented that flag to my dad who passed it on to me several years before he died. He used to fly this flag on special days until it became too worn and torn to fly. That flag means more to me that any US flag that I proudly fly on the flag pole in front of my house. Every morning when I raised the flag and every evening when I take it down, I think of the millions of American men and women who fought and sacrificed for that flag and my right to fly it. Today, I have that flag properly folded in a display case and set up across the room where I can look up at it while I write and remember what it stands for and remember the day my dad passed it on to me.
The Stars and Stripes first flew in battle on this day, September 3, 1777 and will continue to fly in battle until liberals and socialists take complete control of our nation and turn it over to the evils of their ways.
Sources for the above includes: Today, June 14, 1777: Flag Day — Stars and Stripes Declared Official Flag of USA; The Stars and Stripes Flies;