One of my readers suggested to me on Saturday, after he saw the flood of Gadsden flags at the Convention, that I provide a brief history lesson of the flag. I promised him that I would provide a glimpse into a symbol of our liberty and independence.
The Gadsden flag was named for and created by Christopher Gadsden, who was a Colonel in the Continental Army. Gadsden also served in the Continental Congress representing his home state of South Carolina. Gadsden provided the flag to Navy Commodore (Commander-in-Chief) Esek Hopkins, who flew the flag on a Navy ship, accomplishing its first mission to intercept British war ships. Gadsden also presented this flag to the South Carolina legislature, and it was reported in a legislative journal:
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 rattle-snake in the middle, in the attitude of going to strike, and these words underneath, “Don’t Tread on Me!” (Source: Gadsden.info)
The symbol of the rattlesnake ready to strike was used in several newspapers, flags, and banners during the time of the Revolutionary War, and it has been traced back to Benjamin Franklin. The reasoning behind this was during that time, the British sent prisoners to America, so Franklin suggested that rattlesnakes be sent back to Britain. Throughout the Revolutionary War, the rattlesnake was often divided eight parts with the New England states representing the head, and the rest of the colonies with South Carolina being last. Often at the end of this particular snake, it had the saying “Join or Die.”
As time evolved, this was considered one of the first flags in America, and over time, the Stars and Stripes (Old Glory) replaced this flag. Both flags are considered a symbol of patriotism, liberty, and independence for our country.