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Illustrations and Web sites related to the history of American rattlesnake imagery and flags

  • Flag Collection of the Color Guard

    The flag collection of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution. They have a great collection of photos of their flags, including these rattlesnake flags:

    • The Rattlesnake as a Symbol of America

      Benjamin Franklin's anonymous 1775 letter speculating on why the rattlesnake might be a proper symbol for America.


    • Fighting for a Continent: Newspaper coverage of the English and French war for control of North America

      Fascinating details about the first usage of snake symbols in America.

    • Revolutionary War Timeline

      From the National Park Service's American Revolution Web Page. Try to imagine you're reading about current events as you go through it day-by-day.

    • The Minutemen of Culpeper County, Virginia

      This website has tidbits on the interesting history of the Culpeper Minutemen, one of the companies in Patrick Henry's First Virginia Regiment. These are the guys who decided the coiled rattlesnake and "Don't Tread on Me" motto wasn't dramatic enough for their flag, so they added "Liberty or Death" as well. Apparently they also emblazoned this in large letters on their hunting shirts. For an artist's rendering of what the men might have looked like, click on the link.

    • The Rattlesnake Flag of Colonel John Proctor's Battalion

      A summary of the story behind one of the earliest American rattlesnake flags from the Colonel John Proctor Chapter of the Daughters of The American Revolution.

    • NAVA: North American Vexillological Association

      A vexillologist is someone who studies flags. (Try saying that one three times fast. Or just once.) This Web site has a ton of information for those interested in flags. One especially handy thing they offer is a flag Q&A where you can "ask the experts." It is mainly written by a gentleman named Dave Martucci. We cribbed from Martucci extensively to write our feature on the Gadsden flag.

    • Flags of the World (FOTW)

      FOTW is a cooperative Web site in the grand early tradition of the Internet. Started in 1993, it's grown into a huge resource for people who are looking for information on just about any flag-related topic. As of 2001, they say they have over 9,900 Web pages with more 18,500 images of flags.

    • Early U.S. Flags

      Dave Martucci's story of the American flag. The text is incomplete, but there's a wealth of important detail here.

    • Flags over America

      Concise summaries of dozens upon dozens of flags used from colonial times on.

    • American Memory

      American Memory is "a gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. The site offers more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical collections." Quite impressive and exciting, really. Among its many items:

    • Illustration: Commodore Esek Hopkins

      This is a portrait of the first commander-in-chief of the American Navy. Christopher Gadsden supposedly presented Hopkins with the first rattlesnake flag to use as his personal standard.

      To the right of Hopkins in this portrait, you can see a "First Navy Jack" rattlesnake flag with thirteen stripes. Some experts say that in this illustration the "Navy Jack" is flying from the Ensign gaff so its not a Jack at all. It is flying where a national flag would normally be. This could be because the early U.S. Navy was formed with a Southern Squadron and a Northern Squadron, consisting of ships drafted from the states. The rattlesnake ensign would have been the flag of the South Carolina Navy.

      Note that this similar portrait of Hopkins from a collection on collection by the US Navy does not show the snake.

    • The "Alfred" Sailing Ship

      Historical details about the first flagship of the U.S. Navy.

    • Samuel Nicholas (17441790)

      A mini-biography of the first commissioned officer in what later became the United States Marine Corps. Nicholas sailed with Commodore Hopkins on the first voyage of the U.S. Navy.

    • USS Kitty Hawk flies First Navy Jack

      It has become a tradition in the U.S. Navy to have the ship with the longest total period of active service fly the First Navy Jack. A newswire story entitled "Kitty Hawk flies high with First Navy Jack" about its transfer ran in 1998.

    • Illustration: Gadsden flag flying for George Washington

      An engraving from the Columbian Magazine, May 1789. It illustrates the Philadelphia reception for George Washington on April 20th, 1789, on his way to the first inauguration. It's not the American flag that's flying, it's the Gadsden flag.


  • More Resources

    Gadsden flag Don't Tread on Me
    This is my new Web site devoted to the Gadsden flag. It includes free Gadsden flag clip art, recommendations on where to buy flags, t-shirts & sweatshirts, stickers & mugs, plus free Gadsden flag Windows desktop wallpaper.

    Dont Tread on Me First Navy Jack
    The sister site to The First Navy Jack is enjoying renewed popularity these days thanks to an order from the Secretary of the Navy that directs all U.S. Navy ships to fly the First Navy Jack for the duration of the War on Terrorism.

    If you want to buy a Gadsden flag, or just about any other flag, check out FlagLine. They've got great prices and service. I've been sending people to Josef and his colleagues for more than two years and I've never heard a complaint.

    Gadsden & Culpeper American Heritage Shoppe
    This is a new business based in Albany, New York. I haven't known them as long as Josef at FlagLine, but the owners, Patrick and Larry, seem like good, trustworthy guys with good products. My dealings with them have been very positive.

    Do you have a home page? Please add a link to this page and help keep America's heritage alive. Thank you!

    My sponsors (both run by great guys and recommended):
    Gadsden and Culpeper Dont Tread on Me shop
    Dont Tread on Me shirts

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