How did the American Flag earn its Stripes?

american flag, sons of liberty, grand union flagThe original flag of the Sons of Liberty was probably the first version of the American flag to bear red and white stripes. It was during their protest against tyranny that the decision was made to use stripes, and it was this design that the British soon referred to as “rebel stripes”.  Even though the flag has changed considerably since then, and the stripes are not there as signs of protest against the British Stamp Act, the symbolic stripes of liberty have lived on.

Soon after the “rebel stripes” of the Sons of Liberty, Washington’s “Grand Union” version of the flag was born, but this flag was preceded by the regimental flag carried by a Philadelphia troop escorting Washington into Cambridge.  Remarkably, both the regimental and Grand Union flags bore 13 stripes.  When the grand Union Flag was raised, many complained that it was too similar to the Union Jack.  Some even thought they were surrendering, even though the flag had 13 stripes representing the colonies.

After America declared independence from British rule, there seemed no need to have a American flag that carried the British cross, but without an official “American flag” during the Revolutionary War, there were several versions of the flag in circulation.  While not all of them had stripes, all were a symbol of liberty and freedom.

Betsy Ross finally created a flag that was a true symbol of America’s rebellion against the British, but before that there were several American flags that had only stripes.  They were made with red and white, or red, white and blue stripes.  Even when the current flag was first introduced, the stars played a subordinate role to the stripes. To this day, our national anthem speaks of our national passion for the American flag, “Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight, o’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?”  Advertising Flag Company offers an extensive line of historic flags such as the Sons of Liberty, Grand Union and the Betsy Ross flag.

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