NAVY JACK FLAG
In late 1775, as the first ships of the Continental Navy readied in the Delaware River, Commodore Esek Hopkins issued an instruction directing his vessels to fly a "striped" jack and ensign. The exact design of these flags is unknown. But, since about 1880, this jack has traditionally been depicted as consisting of thirteen red and white stripes charged with an uncoiled rattlesnake and the motto "Dont Tread on Me" [sic]; this design appeared in a color plate in Admiral George Henry Preble's influential History of the Flag of the United States. Recent scholarship, however, has demonstrated that this design never existed but "was a 19th-century mistake based on an erroneous 1776 engraving".
In 1778, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sicily, thanking him for allowing entry of revolutionary ships into Sicilian ports. The letter describes the new flag of the colonies according to the 1777 Flag Resolution, but also describes a flag of "South Carolina, a rattlesnake, in the middle of the thirteen stripes.
"The rattlesnake had long been a symbol in the colonies of resistance and defiance to the Crown. The phrase "Don't Tread on Me" may have been coined during the American Revolutionary War, a variant perhaps of an earlier image. A snake severed in segments and labelled with the names of the colonies and the legend "Join, or Die", had first been published in Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754, as a political cartoon reflecting on the Albany Congress.
The rattlesnake (specifically, the Timber Rattlesnake) is especially significant and symbolic to the American Revolution. The rattle has thirteen layers, signifying the original Thirteen Colonies. Additionally, the snake does not strike until provoked, a characteristic expressed by the phrase "Don't tread on me." (see Gadsden flag).
Made in the USA
All of our flags are made in the United States.