Author Topic: Flag of the Month - December 2021 the Gadsden Flag  (Read 88 times)

Online Mrs. Smith

  • Deputy Ladyseed National Coordinator - NM State Coordinator
  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1309
  • TANSTAAFL!
Flag of the Month - December 2021 the Gadsden Flag
« on: December 01, 2021, 07:48:35 PM »
Happy December, all, and welcome to the last Revolutionary War era flag in our Flag of the Month series.  We’re glad to have shared this collection of historical flag lore with you, and hope you’ve learned as much from the series as we have.

This month’s flag is arguably the most widely recognized design from the American Revolution, with the exception of the Betsy Ross.  It is also the most reproduced in the greatest number of differing mediums, and, for good or ill, the most parodied flag from that period.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are pleased to present to you the Gadsden Flag!



The Gadsden flag is a historical Revolutionary War period flag with a yellow field depicting a timber rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Beneath the rattlesnake are the words: "Dont Tread on Me". Some modern versions of the flag include an apostrophe.

The flag is named after politician Christopher Gadsden (1724–1805), who designed it in 1775, during the early days of the Revolutionary War. It was used by the Continental Marines as an early motto flag, along with the Moultrie flag. It is sometimes used in the modern United States as a symbol for constitutionalism and limited government

The timber rattlesnake can be found in the area of the original Thirteen Colonies. Like the bald eagle, part of its significance is that it was unique to the Americas, serving as a means of showing a separate identity from the Old World. Its 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 Parliament to send convicted criminals to the Americas (primarily the Province of Georgia), so Franklin suggested that they thank them by sending rattlesnakes to Britain in return.



In the fall of 1775, the Continental Navy was established by General George Washington in his role as Commander in Chief of all Continental Forces, before Esek Hopkins was named Commodore of the Navy. Those first ships were used to intercept incoming transport ships carrying war supplies to the British in the colonies in order to supply the Continental Army, which was desperately undersupplied in the opening years of the American Revolutionary War. The Second Continental Congress authorized the mustering of five companies of Marines to accompany the Navy on their first mission.

Continental Colonel Christopher Gadsden represented his home state of South Carolina, and was one of seven members of the Marine Committee outfitting the first naval mission.  The first Marines enlisted in the city of Philadelphia and carried drums painted yellow and depicting a coiled rattlesnake with thirteen rattles along with the motto "Dont Tread on Me." This is the first recorded mention of the future Gadsden flag's symbolism.



Before the departure of that first mission in December 1775, the newly appointed commander-in-chief of the Navy, Commodore Esek Hopkins, received a yellow rattlesnake flag from Gadsden to serve as the distinctive personal standard of his flagship. Hopkins had previously led The United Companies of the Train of Artillery of the Town of Providence, which had a similar flag, before being appointed to lead the Navy.

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, "Dont tread on me."”

In December 1775, an anonymous person calling themselves "An American Guesser" wrote to the Pennsylvania Journal:  "I observed on one of the drums belonging to the marines now raising, there was painted a Rattle-Snake, with this modest motto under it, 'Dont tread on me.' As I know it is the custom to have some device on the arms of every country, I supposed this may have been intended for the arms of America."

This anonymous writer, having "nothing to do with public affairs" and "in order to divert an idle hour," speculated on why a snake might be chosen as a symbol for America.  First, it occurred to him that "the Rattle-Snake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America."  The rattlesnake also has sharp eyes, and "may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance." Furthermore, "She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. ... She never wounds 'till she has  generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her."

Finally, "I confess I was wholly at a loss what to make of the rattles, 'till I went back and counted them and found them just thirteen, exactly the number of the Colonies united in America; and I recollected too that this was the only part of the Snake which increased in numbers."

"Tis curious and amazing to observe how distinct and independent of each other the rattles of this animal are, and yet how firmly they are united together, so as never to be separated but by breaking them to pieces. One of those rattles singly, is incapable of producing sound, but the ringing of thirteen together, is sufficient to alarm the boldest man living."

Many scholars now agree that this "American Guesser" was Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin is also known for opposing the use of an eagle — "a bird of bad moral character" — as a national symbol. Perhaps he’d have preferred the Rattlesnake, instead?

Stay tuned! We have ONE MORE flag to share with you for New Year's Day!
"An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life." - Robert A. Heinlein

"A generation which ignores history has no past, and no future." - Lazarus Long

"I will accept the rules that you feel are necessary for YOUR freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do." - Robert A. Heinlein

"What we do now echoes in eternity." Marcus Aurelius

"I can kill you with my brain." - River Tam

Rifleman 5/29/16
Distinguished Rifleman 06/19/19 LADYSEED
KD Rifleman 10/20/19  KD Requal 10/04/20

Offline Gus

  • Instructor In Training 1
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
  • Known Distance x Determination = Rifleman
Re: Flag of the Month - December 2021 the Gadsden Flag
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2021, 08:06:53 PM »
My favorite flag.  It's as relevant now at it was in 1775.

Great post!

Gus
"Mental notes aren't worth the paper they're written on" - Mark Twain

"Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen" - Jeff Cooper

Online Mrs. Smith

  • Deputy Ladyseed National Coordinator - NM State Coordinator
  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1309
  • TANSTAAFL!
Re: Flag of the Month - December 2021 the Gadsden Flag
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2021, 08:23:48 PM »
I'm truly glad you enjoyed it, Gus. I hope you've had the chance to look at the rest of the series.

The post guide is here: https://appleseedinfo.org/smf/index.php?topic=60068.0

In Liberty,
Traci
"An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life." - Robert A. Heinlein

"A generation which ignores history has no past, and no future." - Lazarus Long

"I will accept the rules that you feel are necessary for YOUR freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do." - Robert A. Heinlein

"What we do now echoes in eternity." Marcus Aurelius

"I can kill you with my brain." - River Tam

Rifleman 5/29/16
Distinguished Rifleman 06/19/19 LADYSEED
KD Rifleman 10/20/19  KD Requal 10/04/20

Offline cornhskr

  • Instructor In Training 3
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 91
Re: Flag of the Month - December 2021 the Gadsden Flag
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2021, 12:06:04 AM »
I greatly appreciate you and my friend @mahamotorworks putting this all together.  I hope this is repeated every month of every year.  I like to bring the flag of the month to the shoots I am able to work and display it.

Online Mrs. Smith

  • Deputy Ladyseed National Coordinator - NM State Coordinator
  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1309
  • TANSTAAFL!
Re: Flag of the Month - December 2021 the Gadsden Flag
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2021, 09:40:15 AM »
I greatly appreciate you and my friend @mahamotorworks putting this all together.  I hope this is repeated every month of every year.  I like to bring the flag of the month to the shoots I am able to work and display it.

That's awesome, Sir.  This is all the major Revolutionary flags we could find,  so I have one more to share next mouth, and then it's done.  But you can still go back to the post guide and go through them whenever you like!

For social media I was thinking of taking the year off, and going back through them starting at the beginning in Jan 2023. That way it'll have been long enough that they feel fresh again!

Thank you so much,
Traci
"An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life." - Robert A. Heinlein

"A generation which ignores history has no past, and no future." - Lazarus Long

"I will accept the rules that you feel are necessary for YOUR freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do." - Robert A. Heinlein

"What we do now echoes in eternity." Marcus Aurelius

"I can kill you with my brain." - River Tam

Rifleman 5/29/16
Distinguished Rifleman 06/19/19 LADYSEED
KD Rifleman 10/20/19  KD Requal 10/04/20