Revolutionary War British Flag 1776 – The Betsy Ross flag is a reconstructed early American flag design that conforms to the Flag Act of 1777 with an outer red stripe and stars arranged in a circle. These details detail the act of 1777, at the start of the American Revolutionary War, which defined 13 vertical red and white stripes and 13 white stars on a blue field. Its name comes from a story once widely believed that shortly after the 1777 act, surveyor and flag maker Betsy Ross produced a flag of this design.
Betsy Ross (1752-1836) was an overseer in Philadelphia who made uniforms, shirts, and flags for the Continental Army. Although her inventions are documented, a popular story emerged in which Ross was hired by a group of Founding Fathers to make a new flag for the United States. According to legd, she deviated from the 6-pointed star design and made a 5-pointed flag instead. The claim by her people that Betsy Ross contributed to the design of the flag is not generally accepted by modern American scholars and vexillologists.
Revolutionary War British Flag 1776
But how this particular American flag design relates to it is unknown. An 1851 painting by Ellie Sully Wheeler of Philadelphia shows Betsy Ross sewing an American flag.
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The National Museum of American History indicates that the story of Betsy Ross first came to the attention of Americans around the time of the Ctnial Exposition of 1876.
In 1870, Ross’ grandson, William J. Canby, wrote a letter to the Pennsylvania Historical Society claiming that his grandmother “made with her own hands the first flag” of the United States.
Canby said he first received this information from his aunt Clarissa Sydney Wilson (née Claypoole) in 1857, twenty years after Betsy Ross’ death. According to him, the original flag was created in June 1776 when a small committee – including George Washington, Robert Morris and relative George Ross – visited Betsy and discussed the need for a new American flag. Betsy accepted the task of making the flag and changed the design of the panel by replacing the six-pointed stars with five-pointed ones. Canby records a historical event based on Washington’s trip to Philadelphia, in the late spring of 1776, a year before Congress passed the Flag Act.
Ross biographer Marla Miller notes that even if one accepts Canby’s prestation, Betsy Ross was one of several flag makers in Philadelphia, and her only contribution to the panel design was changing the shape of the star from a 6-pointed to a 5-pointed. .
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In 1878, col. J. Franklin Reigart published a different story in his book “The History of the First Flag of the United States and the Patriotism of Betsy Ross, Immortal Heroine of the First Union Flag.” Reigart recalls a visit from his great-aunt, Mme. Betsy Ross, 1824, during General Lafayette’s visit to Philadelphia. In this version Dr. Benjamin Franklin replaced George Washington. Together with George Ross and Robert Morris, they request that Mrs. Ross designed the first flagship. Canby’s version and the subsequent 1909 book of Ross family papers never specified the star system. However, Reigart describes Mrs. Ross with eagle in region with 13 stars around head. The cover of Reigart’s book shows 13 stars in a 3-2-3-2-3 region.
The first connection between Betsy Ross and this 13-star-in-a-circle flag design was Charles Weisgerber’s 1893 painting, “The Birth of Our National Flag.”
The 9-by-12-foot painting was first exhibited at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and depicts Betsy Ross with a flag on her lap.
He would need a flag design. The most likely source for its design is the 1882 publication A History of the American Flag by George Hry Preble, a late 19th century flag scholar.
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Preble himself did not mention the star pattern in the 1777 design. However, the book’s illustrators provided a flag design for the 1777 flag. The illustrators may have used the flag design from the 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze. Therefore, the 1872, 1880, and 1882 editions of Preble’s book all show the 1777 flag as having a circle with 13 stars. It is also possible that Weisgerber used the July 1873 issue of Harper’s Weekly Magazine as a source for what the 1777 flag looked like. This article, published a year after Preble’s first edition, showed this flag labeled “Flag Adopted by Congress, 1777.”
Weisgerber later helped initiate the restoration of 239 Arch Street in Philadelphia as the Betsy Ross House,
Weisgerber promoted the story of Betsy Ross by placing a print of the image from the foundation’s donors. It is said that in 1928 he received donations from 4 million children and adults.
In 1897, the New York City Board of Education approved a standardized printing system for all schools in their system.
American Flag Flown In Battle, Sept. 3, 1777
Betsy Ross 1777, ca. A 1920 photograph of Ross by artist Jean Leon Gerome Ferris showing G. George Washington (seated left), Robert Morris and George Ross cut out of the flag’s five-pointed star.
Ross’s grandfather, William Canby, publicly presented part of her story to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1870.
Two years later, George Henry Preble challenged Canby’s 1872 report, “Our Flag: The Origin and Development of the American Flag.”
Canby’s 1870 account remains a popular American legend, but it has become a source of some controversy. Although this account has its followers, there is historical and documentary evidence to support Canby’s story.
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Although modern literature has exaggerated the details of its story, Canby’s account of Betsy Ross never claimed to have contributed to the design of the flag other than the five-pointed star.
The “Betsy Ross” flag is on the seal of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, along with modern American flags honoring veterans throughout American history.
Canby’s account and similar versions of the Betsy Ross story often refer to this design as the “first American flag,” but there is no consensus on what the first American flag looked like or who made it. At least 17 makers and flagmakers worked in Philadelphia during this early era of the American flag. Margaret Manny is believed to have created the first colors (or flag of the Grand Union), but there is no evidence that she also created the stars and stripes. Other flag bearers of this period include Rebecca Young, Anne King, Cornelia Bridges and flag painter William Barrett. Hugh Stewart sold the “colonial flag of the United States” to the Security Council, and William Alliborne was one of the first to make American flags.
Every flag maker in Philadelphia would sew the first American flag. According to Canby, other variations of the flag were made at the time Ross was sewing the design that would bear her name. If this is true, there may not be one “first” flag, but many.
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The Naval Committee of the Second Congress of Congress issued the Flag Resolution on June 14, 1777, establishing the first congressional description of the official flags of the United States. The shape and form of the stars were not standardized – there were variations – but the legal explanation legalized the Ross flag and similar designs.
Resolved, That the third flag of the United States should be three stripes, one red and one white; that the bond should be thirty stars, white on a blue field, against the new bond.
As late as 1779, the War Committee of the Continental Congress had not determined what the Standard Army of the United States would look like. The committee sent a letter to General Washington asking his opinion and submitting a design that included a snake as well as a number corresponding to the state that carried the flag.
Francis Hopkinson is often credited with a number of 13-stars, including the Betsy Ross design. 1780 Letter to the Admiralty Continental Commission regarding the Admiralty Seal,
Grand Union Or Continental Colors Flag
Hopkinson highlighted the patriotic designs he’s created over the past few years, including the “American Flag.” He asked for a simplification of his proposals, but his claim that he was completely critical was rejected. Hopkinson was not the only person consulted on the design of the Great Seal of the United States. Moreover, he was a civil servant, and thus already on the government’s payroll.
Ross biographer Marla Miller said the question of Betsy Ross’s involvement in the flag should not be one of design, but of manufacture and commerce.
Her research at the Smithsonian Institution found 17 examples of the 13-star flag that existed between 1779 and ca. In 1796.
A 1779 Princeton portrait of Washington shows a blue battle flag with a circle of thirty 6-pointed white stars.
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Because the flag evolved during the American Revolutionary War, the meaning of the design is uncertain. Historians and experts have debunked the common belief that the stripes and five-pointed star originated in Washington.
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