>" One of the most famous flags of the American Revolution is the Gadsden flag, a coiled rattlesnake over the words “Don’t Tread On Me.” This flag has recently gained popularity again as a favorite symbol at many Tea Party rallies. Recently, several Marines in Connecticut asked the Legislature to fly the Gadsden flag above the Statehouse as a tribute to veterans, saying it was the original Marine Corps flag.
First, a little history regarding the image of the rattlesnake is in order. At our nation’s founding there were some who wanted this creature to be the symbol of America. In 1775, the Continental Congress issued an order calling for five companies of Marines to be created. It was reported that some of the Marines that enlisted that month in Philadelphia carried drums painted yellow, emblazoned with a fierce rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike with 13 rattles, and sporting a motto “Don’t Tread On Me.” The Marines first mission was assisting the Continental Navy on a man-of-war, the Alfred, and three other ships in capturing arms and gunpowder from the British.
In December of that year “An American Guesser” anonymously wrote to the Pennsylvania Journal “I observed on one of the drums belonging to the marines now raising, there was painted a Rattle-Snake, with this modest motto under it, ‘Don’t tread on me.’ As I know it is the custom to have some device on the arms of every country, I supposed this may have been intended for the arms of America.”
This anonymous writer, having “nothing to do with public affairs” went on to speculate on why the rattlesnake might be chosen as a symbol for America. He said “the rattlesnake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America.” Furthermore, “she never begins an attack, nor once engaged, ever surrenders: she is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. … she never wounds till she is generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.”
He also felt the 13 rattles on the flag were a symbol of unity, saying “one of those rattles singly, is incapable of producing sound, but the ringing of 13 together, is sufficient to alarm the boldest man living.” Many scholars now agree that this “American Guesser” was Benjamin Franklin.
Regarding the flag itself, the Gadsden flag was named after its creator, Christopher Gadsden. He led the Sons of liberty in South Carolina in 1765 and was later made a colonel in the Continental Army. In 1775, while he was in Philadelphia, Gadsden was one of three members of the Marine committee to help outfit and man the Alfred and its sister ships.
Esek Hopkins was chosen to be the commander-in-chief of the Navy by Gadsden and Congress. It is generally accepted that Gadsden presented Hopkins with the flag which he flew as his personal standard on the Alfred, because he felt it was important for the Commodore to have a distinctive personal standard.
What is unclear is whether Gadsden took his inspiration from the Marines drums or whether he inspired it himself. In any event, both played an important historic role in portraying the rattlesnake as a symbol of America. The current Marine Corps emblem of the eagle, globe and anchor was officially adopted in 1868 by Brigadier General Jacob Zeilin..."<
Is the Gadsden Flag the original Marine Corps flag? :: Northern Colorado Gazette