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History of the Betsy Ross Flag

History of the Betsy Ross Flag

Freedom Maker Freedom Maker
6 minute read

History of the Betsy Ross Flag

As Americans we know, or we should at least know, who Betsy Ross is. We have learned about her in our history class, and we probably saw a picture of her creating a flag, but how many of us know what the history of the flag itself is. The Betsy Ross flag often brings a sense of intense nationality and patriotism, which we all know and have experienced as American citizens. The Betsy Ross flag is an important part of our history as a nation, as citizens, and as an individual.  

It is rumored that during the summer of 1776, Betsy Ross received a visit from the one and only George Washington, where he asked her to create a flag for their young country. Along with Washington was Robert Morris and George Ross, the uncle of her late husband. These three men were a part of a secret committee, although Betsy Ross was acquainted with two of them already. George Ross, as mentioned, was the uncle of Betsy Ross’s late husband. Betsy was familiar with George Washington as they worshiped at the same church, and their pews were seated right next to each other.  

During that monumental visit, Betsy Ross was called upon to help finish designing, and physically create the first American flag for the country, which Washington had asked for her help in creating. When Washington visited with her on that day, he had shown her an original design which included a six-pointed star. However, Betsy Ross disagreed with the six-pointed star and declared that it should be a different star. Betsy Ross finalized the design by arguing for a five-pointed star, and allegedly was able to do so in a single snip. Thus, the Betsy Ross flag, the monumental flag that is famous for its history today, was created.  

There is still mystery and confusion over what the meaning of the flag is, if there is any meaning behind it. Obviously, the Betsy Ross flag is a major symbol of nationality among Americans, and especially among the early American colonies. There was a myth, that has since been discredited, that the Betsy Ross flag was based on the Washington coat of arms. Another theory is that the stars are represented of man striving for greatness, greatness that is beyond himself, which is their ancient meaning. Today, we know the stars as representing the states on the American flag and assumed that the stars represent the original thirteen colonies/states on the Betsy Ross flag. The stripes are rumored to be from the Navy Jack Flag, the flag with the famous “Don’t Tread on Me” motto. 

The color of the stripes is thought to be from the Union flag. However, the real meaning behind the flag is still a mystery but the meaning we learn about in history is that the stars represent the thirteen colonies that fought for their independence during the revolutionary war beginning in 1775.  

There is also still question over who designed and made the first flag, and whether Betsy Ross created it as Betsy Ross made several flags around this time period, and there were several other men and women who also were well-known for their flags they created. It’s hard to know what happened as the story portrayed above wasn’t brought to the public’s attention until almost a century later in 1870 by Ross’ grandson. The tale of Betsy Ross’ encounter with George Washington on that day in 1776 was passed down through generations of the Ross family, however it was never mentioned until her grandson decided to share the tale. There is a receipt of Ross being paid fifteen pounds for sewing ship’s standards by the Pennsylvania State Navy Board, but Betsy Ross was making several flags around the time of this receipt, as previously mentioned. There is no guarantee that this receipt pertained to the flag that we know today as the Betsy Ross flag. 

Receipts also exist for other seamstresses at the same time as Betsy Ross including Margaret Manning, Cornelia Bridges, and Rebecca Young. However, it seems as though the tale that was passed down through Ross’ family tree is the one that is most likely true, especially since this is the tale that we have all learned and know today. Betsy Ross created the first American flag.  

As we notice, there is not much cemented history regarding flags back in the 1700 - 1800s. The fragmentary, inconclusive history regarding the flag is due in part because the nation at the time did not associate flags with a sense of nationality, which we do today. This wasn’t until much later that nationality and a sense of pride came with flags. The Star-Spangled Banner had a similar story, as it was created but did not grow in popularity until much later. Today, flags are a major part of our sense of pride and nationality, no matter what country you are a part of, but especially in America. No matter where you go, there is a good chance that you will see the notorious red, white and blue flag somewhere on your trip.  

Whatever the true history of the flag is, it eventually expressed a national desire for female patriotism, who showed support for their male counterparts, thanks to Betsy Ross. Betsy Ross did make flags and was very talented in doing so, which still expresses a sense of pride when mentioned today. Whatever the history is behind the flag, and no matter who designed the flag, Betsy Ross was able to create a five-pointed star in a single snip, a five-pointed star which was on the Betsy Ross flag, and is on the American Flag today.  

If you’ve never seen what the Betsy Ross Flag looks like, or if you want to see what styles of the Besty Ross flags we offer, head on over to our Wooden American Flags and click on our Betsy Ross collection. We have anywhere from the signature style, a natural wood style, to a rustic wood style. We even offer Betsy Ross flags with a thin red or blue line in support of our first responders. Sizes range from a 24” x 14” small wooden flag, to our 4XL flag that is 75” x 45” in size. 

You can also request for us to design a custom flag, which could be a Betsy Ross design, or not, that you have in mind.  

Don’t want a flag, but still want to represent Betsy Ross in the best way you know how? Check out our patriotic apparel where we have several different Betsy Ross T-shirt designs to choose from. We also have select hoodies with a Betsy Ross design. Check it out!

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