The Mysterious Origins of the American Flag

The American flag has gone through many changes since it was adopted in 1777 by the Second Continental Congress. As the adoption of the Stars and Stripes is commemorated on Flag Day, find out more about Old Glory’s mysterious origins and its rise to iconic prominence.

When the American Revolution broke out in 1775, the colonists didn’t yet unite under a single flag. Instead, they fought mainly under unit or regimental flags, according to Marc Leepson, author of the book “Flag: An American Biography.” One flag of the time featured a picture of a coiled rattlesnake with the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me,” while another showed a pine tree with the words “An Appeal to Heaven.” “There really wasn’t anything that was stars and stripes, red, white and blue,” said Mike Buss, a flag expert with the American Legion veterans’ organization.

In June 1775, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, created a united colonial fighting force known as the Continental Army. Some historians claim that George Washington, the army’s commander in chief, ordered that a flag called the Continental Colors be raised the following New Year’s Day during a siege of British-occupied Boston. But David Martucci, past president of the North American Vexillological Association, the world’s largest group dedicated to the study of flags, believes Washington likely raised a British Union Jack instead. The Continental Colors, which contained 13 alternating red and white stripes with a Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner, was only used by the navy and perhaps at forts, according to Martucci. “It was sort of a compromise between the radicals who wanted to see a separate nation and the people who were more conciliatory and wanted to see some accommodation with the crown,” he said.

Either way, Washington realized soon after that it probably wasn’t a good idea to fly a flag resembling that of the enemy, Leepson said. The Second Continental Congress was busy drafting a constitution known as the Articles of Confederation, seeking an alliance with France and supplying the war effort. But on June 14, 1777, it took time from its schedule to pass a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” To this day, no one knows who designed the flag or why that particular color combination and pattern were chosen. Although legend holds that Betsy Ross made the first American flag in 1776 after being asked to do so by Washington, primary sources backing up that assertion are scarce.

Women making American flags at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, 1917. (Credit: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

The American flag would henceforth contain 15 stripes and 15 stars. More states kept joining, including Tennessee in 1796, Ohio in 1803, Louisiana in 1812, Indiana in 1816 and Mississippi in 1817. Nonetheless, the flag featured 15 stripes and 15 stars until 1818, when Congress passed a new act providing for 13 stripes in honor of the 13 original colonies and one star for each state.

It was almost unheard of for individuals to fly the U.S. flag until the Civil War broke out in 1861, at which time the Stars and Stripes suddenly became a popular symbol in the North, according to Leepson. “This is the beginning of what some people call the cult of the flag, the almost religious feeling that many Americans have for the red, white and blue,” he said.

In 1870 the Betsy Ross legend took off when her grandson held a press conference touting her possible role in sewing the first flag, and the earliest flag protection laws appeared not long after. Meanwhile, in 1885, Wisconsin teacher Bernard Cigrand originated the idea for a national flag day.

In 1912, President William Howard Taft signed an executive order that, for the first time, clarified what the flag should look like. Up until then, some flags were oddly proportioned, Leepson explained, or even had six- or eight-pointed stars. Four years later, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation officially establishing a nationwide observance of Flag Day on June 14, the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. And in 1949, President Harry Truman signed legislation designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day. Though Flag Day is not a federal holiday, the U.S. government encourages its citizens to display Old Glory outside of their homes and businesses.

Source:

History.com (A+E Networks)

Time after time, Americans have taken to the streets to defend our constitutional rights, whether it was our livelihood at stake -- or our lives. But, what was the point of all the civil rights movements that came before, if we're about to let the government take our rights away now?

On his Wednesday night special, Glenn Beck argued that Americans are tired of having our rights trampled by "tyrannical" leaders from state and local governments who are ignoring our unalienable rights during this pandemic.

"Our nanny state has gone too far. The men and women in office -- the ones closest to our communities, our towns, our cities -- are now taking advantage of our fear," Glenn said. "Like our brothers and sisters of the past, we need to start making the decisions that will put our destiny, and our children's destiny, back into our hands."

It took less than two months of the coronavirus tyranny to make America unrecognizable, but some Americans are fighting back, risking losing their jobs and businesses or even jail time, as they battle to take back our civil rights.

Here are just a few of their stories:

After New Jersey's Atilis Gym reopened in defiance of the governor's executive order, the Department of Health shut them down for "posing a threat to the public health." Co-owner Ian Smith says somebody sabotaged the gym's toilets with enire rolls of paper to create the public health "threat."

Oregon Salon owner, Lindsey Graham, was fined $14 thousand for reopening. She said she was visited by numerous government organizations, including Child Protective Services, in what she believes are bullying tactics straight from the governor's office.

77-year-old Michigan barber, Karl Manke, refused to close his shop even when facing arrest. "I couldn't go another 30 days without an income," he said. But when local police refused to arrest him, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's (D) office suspending his business license instead.

Port of Seattle police officer Greg Anderson was suspended after he spoke out against enforcing what he called "tyrannical orders" imposed amid coronavirus lockdowns.

Kentucky mother-of-seven, Mary Sabbatino, found herself under investigation for alleged child abuse after breaking social distancing rules at a bank. After a social worker from child protective services determined there was no sign of abuse, he still sought to investigate why the Sabbatino's are homeschooling, and how they can give "adequate attention to that many children."

Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther was sentenced to seven days in jail after she defied the state-mandated stay-at-home orders to reopen her business.

Watch the video clip from Glenn's special below:


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It took less than two months of the coronavirus tyranny to make America unrecognizable. Leaders from state and local governments across the U.S. have flattened the curve of some of our most basic constitutional rights, but some Americans are fighting back — and risking jail time or losing their businesses.

On Wednesday night's GBTV special, Glenn Beck argued that we're witnessing the birth of a new civil rights movement — and it's time to build a coalition of common sense to keep America as we know it free.

Watch the full special below:

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On the radio program Thursday, Glenn Beck sat down with chief researcher Jason Buttrill to go over two bombshell developments that have recently come to light regarding former Vice President Joe Biden's role in the 2016 dismissal of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

"Wow! Two huge stories dropped within about 24 hours of each other," Jason began. He went on to explain that a court ruling in Ukraine has just prompted an "actual criminal investigation against Joe Biden in Ukraine."

This stunning development coincided with the release of leaked phone conversations, which took place in late 2015 and early 2016, allegedly among then-Vice President Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Ukraine's former President Petro Poroshenko.

One of the audiotapes seems to confirm allegations of a quid pro quo between Biden and Poroshenko, with the later admitting that he asked Shokin to resign despite having no evidence of him "doing anything wrong" in exchange for a $1 billion loan guarantee.

"Poroshenko said, 'despite the fact that we didn't have any corruption charges on [Shokin], and we don't have any information about him doing something wrong, I asked him to resign,'" Jason explained. "But none of the Western media is pointing this out."

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A recently declassified email, written by former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and sent herself on the day of President Donald Trump's inauguration, reveals the players involved in the origins of the Trump-Russia probe and "unmasking" of then-incoming National Security Adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn.

Rice's email details a meeting in the Oval Office on Jan 5, 2017, which included herself, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former Vice President Joe Biden, and former President Barack Obama. Acting Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell, fully declassified the email recently amid President Trump's repeated references to "Obamagate" and claims that Obama "used his last weeks in office to target incoming officials and sabotage the new administration."

On Glenn Beck's Wednesday night special, Glenn broke down the details of Rice's email and discussed what they reveal about the Obama administration officials involved in the Russia investigation's origins.

Watch the video clip below: