Fiber Friday - Happy 4th of July!
Since Fiber Friday falls on the 4th of July I can't help but think about the fight for American Independence. As a historian (my bachelor's degree is in History), I never cease to be in awe of our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) who risked everything - life, liberty, property - in order to establish our country.
I especially enjoy some of the early colonial history. My maternal Grandmother's family is from early colonial stock and it's interesting (and humbling) to read about their struggles and triumphs as early Americans. Being also fascinated with textiles I can't help but be interested in the early history of our flag.
Of course when you think about our Stars and Stripes, many of us immediately think of Betsy Ross. I did some reading about Betsy on the Betsy Ross Homepage (what a wonderful age we live in) and found that there is some controversy about whether or not Betsy truly did design or make the first American flag as we know it. The evidence that exists is apparently circumstantial at best but it does seem reasonable to assert that it is highly likely that she did, given the few facts that are known.
I have to admit, however, that my favorite colonial era flag is the Gadsen flag, known by its distinctive rattlesnake design and "Don't Tread On Me" motto. The design evolved from a cartoon printed by Benjamin Franklin exhorting the colonies to stick together and defend themselves during the French and Indian wars. Benjamin Franklin felt that the rattlesnake, being an indigenous American snake, represented many desirable qualities. A rattlesnake will generally (don't count on it if you surprise one) give warning when threatened but will not back down once provoked. Having grown up in rattlesnake country I can tell you that all living things, no matter their size, respect this snake and generally give it a wide berth.
Interestingly enough, this flag is not entirely lost to history in the present day. It lives on in the First Navy Jack, created in 1775, and is now traditionally flown on the U.S. Navy ship that has been in service longest. At the present time that honor belongs to the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. But according to the First Navy Jack website, it is currently being flown by all U.S. Navy vessels during the War on Terrorism. As you can see, in the First Navy Jack, the snake isn't coiled - it is striking.
Don't Tread on Me! Happy Independence Day!