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Americanism: Gadsden Flag History


This is what is now called the Gadsden Flag. It is a bold expression of freedom by the American people and disagreement with government.

The motto first gained fame in 1775 when newly enlisted Marines marched in Philadelphia. They were the first to join the newly formed Continental Navy which would capture two British cargo ships loaded with arms and gunpowder. When they marched, they had drums painted yellow with a fierce rattlesnake that was coiled and ready to strike, and had 13 rattles. Also painted on this motto were the words, "Don't Tread on Me." The 13 rattles symbolized the 13 American colonies governed by the British.

The motto, "Don't Tread on Me", was a battle cry intended to warn the British crown that the colonies will defend themselves if attacked. It is saying, do not trample on me or I will strike back.

After the enlisted Marines marched with the "Don't Tread on Me" drums, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention by the name of Christopher Gadsden, designed a "Don't Tread on Me" flag which was first displayed on the main mast of the Continental Navy's First Commander in Chief. And this is how it later became known as the Gadsden flag.

The snake symbol had gained fame 24 years earlier, in 1751, when Benjamin Franklin's newspaper had published an article bitterly protesting the British practice of sending convicts to America and it was suggested that the colonists should return the favor by shipping to Britain a cargo of rattlesnakes. Benjamin Franklin's newspaper again later printed a cartoon of a striking rattlesnake with the words "Join or Die." This political message was urging the colonies to fight the French and their Native American allies; and to convince the British government to support a unified colonial government in America.

Therefore, today, along the same lines, this symbol means: American Freedom; I will not allow the government to trample on me.
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