History of the Gadsden Flag

The History of the Gadsden Flag with a coiled rattlesnake and the words, “Don’t tread on me”—has been a symbol of freedom and individualism for more than 242 years. But today, with the nation divided politically, it can also be a signal for hatred and bigotry. This is because the symbols we associate with a cause, like the flag, often have many layers of meaning for different people.

Charleston’s Christopher Gadsden designed the pattern in 1775 and presented it first to Commodore Esek Hopkins, commander of the brand new United States Navy established by General George Washington. It later became a signature of the Continental Marines during the American Revolutionary War and is considered the first flag to fly into battle by the United States Navy.

Symbol of Resistance: History of the Gadsden Flag

In the ensuing years, the flag migrated from political movements to clothing brands and cars—used by people expressing their support for the rights of the individual and the principles of limited government. Its popularity spiked after the September 11 attacks, then grew again when the Tea Party movement emerged and Alabama became the seventh state to approve the Gadsden-designed specialty license plate in 2014.

But the symbol’s ties to a person who owned slaves—Christopher Gadsden was a delegate to the Continental Congress from South Carolina and later served as a brigadier general in the militia—has brought criticism of its association with libertarian sentiments. It has also sparked accusations of racism when used at rallies by the Tea Party movement, which believes the federal government is overtaxing and overregulating the country beyond its constitutional limits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *