Gadsden Flag Don’t Tread on me Flag
This printed nylon Gadsden flag comes with brass grommets. Flag is 100% made in the U.S.A.
Gadsden Flag Don’t Tread on me Flag
The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the rattlesnake are the words “Don’t tread on me”. The flag is named after American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden, who designed it in 1775 during the American revolution. It was also used by the Continental Marines as an early motto flag, along with the Moultrie Flag.
The timber rattlesnake and eastern diamondback rattlesnake both populate the geographical areas of the original thirteen colonies. Their use as a symbol of the American colonies can be traced back to the publications of Benjamin Franklin. In 1751, he made the first reference to the rattlesnake in a satirical commentary published in his Pennsylvania Gazette. It had been the policy of Britain to send convicted criminals to America, so Franklin suggested that they thank the British by sending rattlesnakes to England.
Benjamin Franklin’s “Join, or Die” cartoon
In 1754, during the French and Indian War, Franklin published his famous woodcut of a snake cut into eight sections. It represented the colonies, with New England joined together as the head and South Carolina as the tail, following their order along the coast. Under the snake was the message “Join, or Die”. This was the first political cartoon published in an American newspaper.
When American colonies came to identify more with their own community and liberty than as vassals of the British empire, icons that were unique to the Americas became increasingly popular. The rattlesnake, like the bald eagle and American Indian, came to symbolize American ideals and society.
As the American Revolution grew, the snake began to see more use as a symbol of the colonies. In 1774, Paul Revere added it to the title of his paper, the Massachusetts Spy, as a snake joined to fight a British dragon. In December 1775, Benjamin Franklin published an essay in the Pennsylvania Journal under the pseudonym American Guesser in which he suggested that the rattlesnake was a good symbol for the American spirit:
“I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids—She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.—She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage.—As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal:—Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her.—Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?”
Gadsden’s flag in an 1885 school book
In fall 1775, the United States Navy was established by Commander in Chief of all Continental Forces, General George Washington, before Esek Hopkins was named Commodore of the Navy, with seven ships, often called “Washington Cruisers”, that flew the simple triangle shaped green tree with a trunk, the “Liberty Tree Flag” with the motto “Appeal to Heaven” according to the October 20, 1775 letter of Washington’s aide Colonel Joseph Reed, that is in the Library of Congress. The illustration on this page shows four flags, the one in the upper left is a common artist’s rendition, but is incorrect at least as far as the motto, which is “Appeal to Heaven”, not “AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN” according to the letter from Washington’s aide, and Caslon was the common font of the day, used on both the Declaration and the Constitution, not the sans serif typeface shown on the flag image. Further for survivability in the high winds at sea, a simple triangle shape evergreen liberty tree is far more likely than an intricate many branch liberty tree.
Those first ships were used to intercept incoming British ships carrying war supplies to the British troops in the colonies to both deprive the supplies to the British and to supply to the Continental Army. One ship captured by Captain John Manley had 30,000 pairs of shoes on it, but the admiralty agent demanded his 2 1/2 per cent commission before he would release the cargo for Washington’s army, so many soldiers marched barefoot in the snow. To aid in this, the Second Continental Congress authorized the mustering of five companies of Marines to accompany the Navy on their first mission. The first Marines enlisted in the city ofPhiladelphia, and they carried drums painted yellow, depicting a coiled rattlesnake with thirteen rattles, and the motto “Don’t Tread on Me.” This is the first recorded mention of the future Gadsden flag’s symbolism.
At the Congress, Continental Colonel Christopher Gadsden represented his home state of South Carolina. He was one of seven members of the Marine Committee who were outfitting the first naval mission.
Before the departure of that first mission in December 1775, the newly appointed commander-in-chief of the Navy, Commodore Esek Hopkins, received the yellow rattlesnake flag from Gadsden to serve as the distinctive personal standard of his flagship. It was displayed at the mainmast.
Gadsden also presented a copy of this flag to the Congress of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina. This was recorded in the South Carolina congressional journals on February 9, 1776:
Col. Gadsden presented to the Congress an elegant standard, such as is to be used by the commander in chief of the American Navy; being a yellow field, with a lively representation of a rattlesnake in the middle in the attitude of going to strike and these words underneath, “Don’t tread on me.”
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