Who Made the First American Flag?

Every country in the world has a flag, which is a symbol of the country's ethnic origins, different traditions and political or religious leanings. Every flag has a rich history behind its creation. However there is much speculation regarding the pioneer of the first US flag...
One of the most debated topics in the United States is 'Who made the first American flag?' Some say, it was designed by the Philadelphia seamstress, Ms. Betsy Ross, while some believe it was Francis Hopkins, the person who signed the Declaration of Independence.

The American flag represents freedom and dignity of every American. It is the most recognized and respected symbol of the USA, and is often displayed on public and government buildings, private residences, etc. To display patriotism, people wear label pins and badges of the American flag. According to the people of the US, the American flag symbolizes a citizen's rights as per the 'Bill of Rights', the national government of the US Constitution, and the individual liberty and freedom as introduced in the Declaration of Independence.

History of the First American Flag

Though the Grand Union Flag is believed to be the first American flag, officially, it was never accepted to be the national flag. The grand Union Flag inspired by the British East India Company flag had 13 alternating white and red stripes with the words 'BRITISH UNION JACK' in the canton and was created by Margaret Manny. The first President of the United States, George Washington used this flag during the early years of the American Revolution.

It is believed that Betsy Ross, a seamstress from Philadelphia had sewn the first official American flag. The first American flag history goes back to the year 1776, when George Washington, along with Col. George Ross (Betsy Ross' late husband's relative) and Robert Morris, the representatives of the Continental Committee, visited the upholstery store of Ross with the rough sketch of the American flag. Betsy Ross suggested that instead of the six point stars, a five point star could be easily cut and would look much better. This design was recognized officially in the 1777 Flag Resolution. The resolution stated: "Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, while in a blue field, representing a new Constellation." And so the first American flag had thirteen alternating white and red stripes and a circle of thirteen stars that represented the thirteen colonies. The circle of stars were borne on a blue background and the material used for making the flag was hemp.

Controversy Surrounding the First American Flag

Another person associated with the designing of the American flag was Francis Hopkins, the person who signed the Declaration of Independence. The fact that Betsy Ross designed the first American flag came to light only after 94 years after her death. The truth that Betsy Ross designed the American flag gets a beating for the following reasons;
  • There is no evidence to prove that Betsy Ross and George Washington knew each other. Though she is known to have maintained a detailed record of all her transactions, there is no mention of her role in designing the first official American flag.
  • At the same time as Betsy Ross, there were 17 other esteemed flag makers who could have sewn America's first national flag.
  • There was no confirmation from Betsy Ross either in the form of records or in person that she played a role in designing America's official flag.
  • No committee was formed to design the national flag in 1776 and George Washington was not a member of the Continental Committee.
No matter who made the first American flag, the history and symbolism of the flag represents the diligent spirit of a nation that stands for its beliefs and rights.
By Marlene Alphonse
Published: 2/2/2010
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