The Surprising History of These Historic U.S. Flags

The Surprising History of These Historic U.S. Flags

How well do you know your U.S. history? Let's take a deep dive into some of the most fascinating historic U.S. flags!

Bedford flag

The Bedford Flag is one of the oldest surviving flags in the United States, with a history dating back to 1737. It was originally carried by the Bedford Minutemen during the American Revolutionary War. The flag features a unique design with a crimson field, a motif of a mounted Minuteman, and the Latin phrase "Vince Aut Morire," which translates to "Conquer or Die." The flag is often considered a symbol of American patriotism and the spirit of the Revolutionary War. Today, the Bedford Flag is preserved in the Bedford Free Public Library in Bedford, Massachusetts.

Gadsden Flag

The "Don't Tread on Me" flag, also known as the Gadsden flag, was designed by Christopher Gadsden, a statesman and military leader, in 1775. The flag features a coiled rattlesnake, ready to strike, and the iconic phrase "Don't Tread on Me" below it, symbolizing a warning to potential oppressors.

During the American Revolution, this flag symbolized the American colonies' determination to resist British rule and defend their liberties. It was widely used by the Continental Navy and Marines.

Commodore Perry Flag

The Commodore Perry flag, also known as the "Don't Give Up the Ship" flag, is an iconic naval flag. It is associated with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, a renowned American naval officer during the War of 1812. Perry ordered the flag's creation in 1813 and flew it during the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813.

The flag features the famous phrase "Don't Give Up the Ship," which were the dying words of Captain James Lawrence, another American naval hero. Perry's victory in the Battle of Lake Erie was pivotal in the War of 1812 and secured American control of the Great Lakes.

An Appeal to Heaven flag

The "An Appeal to Heaven" flag features a pine tree and the phrase "An Appeal to Heaven" and was used by American colonists as a symbol of their resistance to British colonial rule. The flag's origins can be traced back to the early days of the Revolutionary War, and it was famously flown by ships and militias during that time.

The phrase "An Appeal to Heaven" was inspired by John Locke's political philosophy, which suggested that if all civil means of securing rights and justice failed, individuals could appeal to a higher authority symbolized by heaven. This flag was particularly associated with the New England colonies' struggle for independence. It played a role in rallying the spirit of the American Revolution and is seen as an important symbol of early American resistance to tyranny.

Betsy Ross flag

The Betsy Ross flag, also known as the "stars and stripes" or the "first flag of the United States," is a design often attributed to the legendary Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross. According to popular legend, Ross was approached by George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross in 1776 to create a flag for the newly formed United States. The flag features 13 stars in a circle in the canton, representing the original 13 colonies and 13 alternating red and white stripes. While there is debate over the historical accuracy of Betsy Ross's role in creating the flag, it has been a symbol of American patriotism and independence since the early days of the republic. 

Sons of liberty flag


The Sons of Liberty flag, also known as the "Rebellious Stripes" flag, was pivotal in the prelude to the American Revolution. This flag was often used by the Sons of Liberty, a secret organization of American colonists formed in the 1760s to protest British taxation and policies.

The organization played a crucial role in resisting the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, and other oppressive measures imposed by the British government. The flag symbolized the Sons of Liberty's resolve in the face of British oppression, and its use often signified acts of defiance and protest.

Check out all of these flags and more here.

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