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Carl Evans | carlevans

The History Of The Gadsden Flag

Feb 9th 2015 at 4:06 AM

Next to the red, white and blue of Old Glory, no American flag is more recognizable than the Gadsden flag. Sporting the motto “don’t tread on me” under a coiled-up venomous snake, the popularity of this Revolutionary War throwback persists today. Here’s a look at the history of this powerful national symbol.

The early origins of the design date back to musings and political cartoons by Benjamin Franklin during the years leading up to the French and Indian War. Since England had used the colonies as a dumping ground for dangerous prisoners, Franklin suggested that the colonists return the favor by sending dangerous rattlesnakes back to the king. When war finally broke out, Franklin published what is believed to be the first American political cartoon in 1754: a picture of a snake cut into eight pieces with the motto “join or die.”

Christopher Gadsden, an American general who is considered by many to be the “Sam Adams of the South,” modeled his flag after the drums carried by early Marines who had enlisted in Philadelphia, and were chosen to accompany the Continental Navy on its first mission. Their yellow drums featured a coiled snake with thirteen rattles –one for each of the colonies—and the now famous “don’t tread on me” motto. Before the Navy left on its mission in 1775, Gadsden presented his flag to Commodore Esek Hopkins, the newly-appointed commander-in-chief of the Navy, who used it as the personal standard for his flagship.

In the years since the American Revolution, the powerful symbolism of this flag has a storied history of use in galvanizing the spirit of the American people. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the flag saw resurgence in popularity as a rallying symbol for a threatened populace. The snake and motto even rally Americans for more trivial causes such as when the motto was incorporated into the uniforms of the United States Men’s National Soccer Team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

With its roots in the ideological days of the American Revolution, the Gadsden Flag is a popular symbol with members of the Tea Party movement and other Libertarian ideologists. For these activists, the flag represents a time when government was more concerned with defending the country against a perceived threat instead of investing time and energy into regulating the daily lives of Americans.

Whatever reason you might have for flying the Gadsden flag, it’s easy to see how its storied history provokes an emotional response from all who see it.

For more information on flags available in Kingsville, visit this website.

Author Bio

With a passion for perfectly executed parties, Carl writes about event planning and the wedding industry. You may read more on his partytents ideas blog.

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