Betsy Ross and the First American Flag

The colors and emblems on cockades have always signified great meaning. The same is true with flags. The Betsy Ross flag is no exception! Both the meaning of the flag and the story of the woman who made it are an inspiration to every American who loves his country.

The Woman
Betsy Ross's story is that of a true American who works hard, asks no favors and is a blessing to society. Betsy was no stranger to hardship. Twice widowed by age 30, she had also lost a child by her second husband. Her third marriage survived many years but she lost another child. But Betsy had the resilient American spirit that keeps going through struggle.

She was an entrepreneur and talented upholsterer and seamstress. She supported herself with these skills through the loss of two husbands and made a name for herself as a woman of skill. She worked on uniforms, tents and flags for the Continental Army, and reportedly even made bed hangings for George Washington. As her business succeeded, she became a blessing to extended family, taking in widowed or orphaned relatives who needed help.

Historical tradition says that in the summer of 1776, George Washington, Robert Morris and George Ross visited her upholstery shop and brought a sketch of an American flag for her to make. It is said that Betsy then made the first flag shortly thereafter.

The Flag
On January 1, 1776, Washington ordered the Grand Union Flag to be raised during the Continental Army siege of Boston.  This flag had thirteen stripes which alternated red and white. The British Union Jack was in the upper left corner of the flag. "Ceremony staged on Prospect Hill, in Somerville, where a seventy-six foot flagstaff had been erected, so lofty that it could be seen even in distant Boston.  On this was hoisted the 'Union Flag in Compliment to the United Colonies.'  This Great or Grand Union Flag was nothing more than the Meteor Flag of Great Britain modified by having six horizontal white stripes imposed in its field....These of course signified the thirteen original colonies, while retention of the British Union in the first canton testified continued loyalty, as Americans saw it, to the constitution of the government against which they fought." (The History of the United States Flag)

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed the First Flag Act, creating the new country’s first official flag.  "That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation." (First Flag Act)

George Washington is credited with saying: "We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty." In speaking of the new Great Seal, more meaning was given to the colors chosen for the fledgling United States. "White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice."

In recent days, the story of Betsy Ross and the First Flag of the United States have been under attack. Therefore I thought it only fitting to create a special Betsy Ross Cockade to celebrate this amazing woman and the flag that symbolize our American heritage!

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