US Power Partners Blog History of the Gadsden Flag

History of the Gadsden Flag

History of the Gadsden Flag featuring a coiled rattlesnake over the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me” on a yellow background. It was created by South Carolina Congressman Christopher Gadsden and used by Commodore Esek Hopkins, the first Commander-in-Chief of the United States Navy, as his personal ensign during the American Revolution (1775–83). Today, the flag has become an iconic symbol of individual liberty and rebellion against governmental tyranny; it is frequently displayed on clothing, cars and boats by people who support these values.

Diving into the Historical Roots of the Gadsden Flag: From Revolution to Modern Symbolism

However, in recent years, the Gadsden Flag has been co-opted by individuals on the populist right who hold different beliefs and values to those of Christopher Gadsden. Specifically, the flag has been associated with white supremacist groups and ideologies. As a result, the meaning of the flag has shifted significantly over time and individuals must consider how they are using it in order to ensure that they do not contribute to negative associations with the symbol.

Many Americans who continue to use the Gadsden Flag do not view it as a racist symbol and instead see it as a sign of patriotism. They believe that the snake’s trait of honorably cautioning its enemies to beware of the dangers of stepping on it is a good metaphor for the United States and the colonies’ struggle against the British government during the Revolutionary War. Others, however, are concerned that a symbol created by a man who owned slaves cannot be considered to represent true American freedom and equality for all.

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