Betsy Ross 13-Star American Flag

SKU: 323400
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Betsy Ross 13-Star American flag made in the USA. Comes in multiple sizes and styles.

History of the Betsy Ross Flag

The Betsy Ross flag is a reconstructed early design for the flag of the United States, which is conformant to the Flag Act of 1777 and has red stripes outermost and stars arranged in a circle. These details elaborate on the 1777 act, passed early in the American Revolutionary War, which specified 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes and 13 white stars in a blue canton. It was once widely believed that, shortly after the 1777 act, upholsterer and flag maker Betsy Ross produced a flag of this design. In truth, this flag would have been unknown at the time of the Revolutionary War according to Grace Cooper, a former flag historian at the Smithsonian Institution. Cooper dates the earliest appearance of this flag as 1792 but with six-pointed stars. Configuration with red stripes outermost and five-point stars is now standard for U.S. flags, although the stars are now arranged in horizontal rows.

The earliest connection between Betsy Ross and this flag design with 13 stars in a circle was Charles Weisgerber's 1893 painting, "Birth of Our Nation's Flag." The 9 x 12-foot painting was first displayed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and depicts Betsy Ross with the flag on her lap. In developing his work, Weisgerber was in touch with the descendants of Betsy Ross. He would have needed a design for the flag in his painting. The most likely source of his design is the 1882 edition of History of the Flag of the United States of America by George Henry Preble, a flag scholar in the late 1800s. Preble himself did not discuss the arrangement of the stars on the 1777 design. The book's illustrators, however, did provide a flag design for the 1777 flag. The illustrators may have used the flag design from Emanuel Leutze's 1851 painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware. Consequently, the editions of Preble's book in 1872, 1880, and 1882, all show the 1777 flag as having a circle of 13 stars. It is also possible that Weisgerber used a July 1873 issue of Harper's Weekly Magazine as his source to find out what a 1777 flag looked like. This article published one year after Preble's first edition, showed this flag with the label, "Flag Adopted by Congress, 1777."

Preble states in his 1882 text that no one knows who designed the 1777 flag. He goes over the evidence provided by Betsy Ross' grandson, William J. Canby, in an 1870 paper to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He also considers letters from Canby written after Canby delivered his paper. Preble concludes that no stars and stripes flag was in common use prior to the passing of the Flag Resolution in June 1777. As to the actual design including stars and stripes, Preble thinks it may have come from the Marine Committee.

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