Betsy Ross Flag

Written by Donald Sparacin
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The Betsy Ross flag was the first "official" flag of the United States of America. The Continental Congress adopted it on June 14th, 1777. The Betsy Ross flag was comprised of the traditional thirteen alternating red and white stripes, with the blue field in the upper left corner featuring thirteen white five-point stars in a circular pattern. It is believed by historians to have been conceived by a congressman, and then George Washington asked Betsy Ross, a seamstress to make it. The result is history.

A Brief History of the Betsy Ross Flag

Much of what is known about the Betsy Ross flag is legend. Contrary to the popular belief, and a really nice story, she didn't conceive of the design, but it is believed that she did make it or some version of it. Betsy Ross was the widow of an upholsterer in Philadelphia. Legend has it that she made most of Washington's shirts, and that he was a frequent visitor to her shop. Here the legend says that Washington brought her a pencil drawing of a flag, which she supposedly altered into what is today known as the Betsy Ross flag.

Legend aside, the facts are somewhat different. What is known for a fact is that the State Navy Board of Pennsylvania has a ledger that pays Betsy Ross fourteen pounds twelve shilling two pence to make ship's colors. The colors were to be used on Pennsylvania state ships and any remaining ones were to be stored for future use. It is believed that the most of the colors of the day featured stars and stripes in various combinations since the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Whether the story of Betsy Ross is true or legend, what is known for absolute certain is that the flag that is called the Betsy Ross flag was the first one officially adopted by the United States. The name of Betsy Ross is as historical a name as if she had actually designed the flag herself due in large part to much liberty taking by authors of a book published in 1909. It was in this book that most believe the legend began, and the story continues to be told today.


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