Gadsden Flag

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Gadsden made in the USA. Comes in multiple sizes and styles.

History of the Gadsden Flag

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 "Don't 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. The flag was a warning to Great Britain not to trample the liberties of its subjects. By late 1775 though, especially after the Prohibitory Act, many American colonists did not see themselves as subjects to The Crown but instead as independent individuals possessing the rights of liberty and revolution. These rapidly growing convictions helped fuel the flag's adoption.


Flag of the Providence United Train of Artillery

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, "Don't tread on me."

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