13 Star Betsy Ross Flag

Guckenberger Farm, Racine County, WI

24 “ x 12 “

 

This was never an Official Flag of the United States. Indeed, the circle of 13 white stars in a field of blue is a flag that was mostly likely quite unfamiliar to most colonists. Only one contemporary record of a "wreath" of stars exists in the background of a portrait of George Washington (by Charles Wilson Peale).

 

The legend of Betsy Ross was first brought to the public by one of her grandsons, William Canby, in 1870, 94 years after Betsy had allegedly met with George Washington and designed the wreath of stars flag. Numerous historians have conducted exhaustive searches but none have been able to verify that Betsy Ross designed or sewed the first American flag, or that George Washington ever visited her upholstery shop in Philadelphia. They were known to each other. Betsy had done some embroidery work for Gen. Washington and they sat in adjacent pews at Christ Church in Philadelphia. Some historian believes that it could have been she who first suggested the 5 pointed star, mimicking the "molet" (spur wheel) on Gen. Washington's Coat of Arms. Minutes of the State Navy Board of Pennsylvania do show a record of an order to Elizabeth Ross to make ship's colors for Pennsylvania State ships.

 

The stars and stripes were not in common use until after the Joint Resolution of Congress proclaiming a national flag (June, 1777). It is far more likely that Representative Francis Hopkinson was the designer of the first flag. At the time that the flag resolution was adopted Hopkinson was the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board’s Middle Department and also designed the Great Seal of the United States and other government insignia.

 

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© 2014 Marie Roth.