The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the rattlesnake are the words “Don’t tread on me”. The flag is named after American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden (1724–1805), who designed it in 1775 during theAmerican Revolution. It was also used by the Continental Marines as an early motto flag, along with the Moultrie Flag.
In modern times, the Gadsden flag is often associated with political movements such as libertarianism and the American Tea Party, and has been used by U.S. Soccer supporter groups including Sam’s Army and The American Outlaws since the late 1980’s.
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First introduced on Continental Naval ships in the fall of 1775, The First Navy Jack Flag consisted of 13 red and white stripes which were to represent the 13 colonies. Historically there isn’t an exact date as to when the flag changed, but sometime in the years that followed the flag was altered to what it is known now which is 13 red and white alternating stripes with and uncoiled rattlesnake imposed over the stripes with the motto underneath stating “Don’t Tread on Me”. The flag with the rattlesnake and motto on it have typically been used since 1880. The snake is meant to be a symbol of resistance towards the British from the time of Colonial America. The Phrase of “Don’t Tread on Me” was introduced during the Revolutionary War, also the meaning behind the phrase is simple in that a snake doesn’t strike until provoked. Other flags that The United States have used over the years that also depict a snake are flags like The Gadsden Flag, and The Culpepper Flag. All three of these flags play a role in the progression of flags and their meanings throughout American flag history.