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U.S. Flag History by Erl's Carved House Signs


Was adopting the bald eagle as the national symbol a mistake? Should it have been the rattlesnake.? Philosophically, the only flag in our history that reflects the cause of the American Revolution, which was a bloody fight for freedom, is the coiled rattlesnake over the words:



No one can look upon these flags (1775) and misunderstand their meaning:

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 that 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 below) 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"

Other authors felt the rattlesnake was a good example of America's virtues. They argued that it is unique to America; individually its rattles produce no sound, but united they can be heard by all; and while it does not attack unless provoked, it is deadly to step upon one.


The Culpepper FLAG (1775)

The Culpepper Flag (1775): A stylized version of the original "Don't Tread On Me Flag," supposedly used by the Culpeper Minutemen of Colonial America who had the slogan "Liberty or Death". While not proven, this may be the infamous flag which was flown by the first Minute Men to engage British troops in what shortly thereafter became the Revolutionary War.

It features a rattlesnake above the warning, "DON'T TREAD ON ME". The rattle snake had become a traditional symbol of the American Colonies. The most obvious reason for this is that the rattlesnake was ONLY found in the American Colonies and nowhere else in the world. The origin of the slogan (Don't Tread On Me) pertains to the snake's deadly strike and the idea that it is best generally, when left alone.

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.

In the early days of the American revolutionary struggle, each state adapted a flag of it's own. The rattlesnake with thirteen rattles was a common symbol, usually accompanied by the motto, "DON'T TREAD ON ME." The snake and the motto appeared on the banner of John Proctor's battalion raised in Westmoreland County, PA., and was carried by this battalion in the Revolutionary War.


The Gadsden Flag

The Gadsden Flag (1775: Another self-directing responsible individual 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 First Navy Jack (1775)

The First Navy Jack (1775): One of the first flags flown by our U.S. 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.


Display The Flag:  Celebrate The Sacrifice Of Our Forbears AND Fathers !!!!

Most of the text and images above were developed from material in Encyclopedia Brittannica, 1957 Edition. Some was developed from usflag, which is another good start page for U.S. Flags.

Note Also: "Eagle, Flag and Soldiers," above is a New Graphic by Erl. The Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington, VA. memorializes the bloodiest battle (WWII) in USMC history. If there is a soul to the Marine Corps, it is there. I (born 1949,) am FREE today, because so many MILLIONS gave ALL, then. Because the American Bald Eagle represents US, I designed, then carved and colored the image on a redwood board, scanned it, then "cut and pasted! " Continue The Fight For FREEDOM!

More U.S. Flag & Info Links

"U.S. Flag In Rain Drops".. TNT Photo Of The Year!

U.S. Flag & Info by U.S. Scouting (BSA)
The Great Seal of the United States of America
Steve's U.S. Flag Code Page
Celebrate The Flag Page. Also, Hear Red Skelton On MEANING: The Pledge Of Allegiance.
The Confederate Flag - "I Just Do Not Understand"
Historic U.S. Flags And The State Flags
Think About The Yellow Fringed "Admiralty Flag" ...Is It a flag of US, The People?
I Am Against The U.S. Flag Desecration Amendment
Patriotic Symbols of The United States of America
"Old Glory" Page by *DOC* @

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REDVAR'S CAVE: see Redwoods Nymph in action!
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by Erl (Erling) Syverstad, II 1996 - 2003, All Rights Reserved.