Betsy Ross was one of the most important individuals during the American Revolution. Betsy Ross is often considered the sole designer of the stars-and-stripes flag adopted by the Continental Congress in June of 1777. However, there’s no conclusive evidence that Betsy Ross actuallymade the flag, and there’s no conclusive evidence that the Betsy Ross flag was, in fact, the first American flag—but it’s generally accepted as the first.
You’ve certainly seen the Betsy Ross flag at one point or another. The flag contains thirteen stars in a circle within the flag’s canton along with thirteen alternating red and white stripes. The design of the flag was intentional; read on if you’d like to learn the history of the Betsy Ross flag.
The Stars in a Circle
As we stated, the Betsy Ross flag includes thirteen five-pointed stars in the shape of a circle in the flag’s canton. Many scholars believe the stars have five points to represent the Washington family coat of arms. After all, General George Washington led the new nation through the American Revolutionary War.
Each star represents one of the original thirteen colonies. In fact, the Journals of the Continental Congress state “that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Although there’s speculation about why the stars form a circle, most evidence and historians agree it symbolizes perpetuity and equality—that no colony is greater than another.
The Red and White Stripes
Until June of 1782, the reason behind the red and white colors were largely debated. Charles Thomson reported the meaning behind the colors while addressing Congress about the Great Seal of the United States, stating, “White signifies purity and innocence. Red[,] hardiness and valor.” There’s no definitive evidence behind the meaning of the stripes, but most agree that the Sons of Liberty flag from 1765 likely inspired the Betsy Ross flag. Moreover, the thirteen stripes are also considered to represent the original colonies.
As we mentioned before, we may never know the truth behind our nation’s first flag, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know the history of the Betsy Ross flag. Historians regularly debate if Betsy Ross actually made the flag, but regardless of who made it, the stars-and-stripes flag is one of the most important flags in history.
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