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Betsy Ross - When speaking about the origins of the first American flag one cannot think of anyone other than Betsy Ross (January 1, 1752 – January 30, 1836), shown on the left-side panel gracing this and the previous web page, as having created the first American Flag at the request of George Washington in 1776. Surprisingly, for such an important undertaking there's no concrete evidence that she did in fact create the flag -- but she would have been around twenty four or twenty five years of age at the time of Washington's request and so it's quite possible even in the absense of confirmatory evidence that she did in fact create the first flag. Known as the Betsy Ross Flag, it's the familiar circle-of-stars (thirteen stars), each star representing the original 13 colonies on a blue background.

Unfortunately, there's much contoversy among scholars as to whether Betsy Ross really created the first US Flag. Whether she did or did not actually create the first flag of the United States will be a matter for the scholars to finally, if ever, resolve, but it's clear that her name will forever be associated with its creation.

US Naval Captain Samuel Chester Reid Samuel Chester Reid - Samuel Chester Reid (August 24th 1783 – January 28th 1861, click Reid's image at the right to enlarge it), an officer of the United States Navy and who commanded a privateer vessel, had significant influence on the design of the flag of the United States in its later years after 1777 right up to today.

Although the Second Continental Congress initially laid out the specifications of the newly adopted flag in its proclamation of June 14th 1777, the flag had gone through various changes since that time.

The Flag Act of 1794, signed into law by president George Washington, Father of Our Country, resulted in a change in the number of stripes from 13, as originally stipulated on June 14, 1777 by the Second Continental Congress, to fifteen stripes.

Interestingly, it is the flag of 1794, with its 15 stripes and 15 stars, known as the "Star Spangled Banner Flag", that poet and lawyer Francis Scott Key (August 1, 1779 – January 11, 1843) wrote about during the War of 1812 and whos words have become the words of our natonal anthem. So for the intervening seventeen years, right up to the time of Reid's proposal, the number of stripes were fifteen rather than the current 13 stripes consisting of 7 red stripes with 6 white stripes alternating within. Samuel C Reid Flag Sketches

Reid's proposal restored the number of stripes to thirteen and used stars placed within the canton of the flag to represent states of the Union - essentially restoring the flag's specifications to what was originally stipulated by the Second Continental Congress's 1777 proclamation.

Of additional interest was Reid's proposal to create alternative versions of the US flag to be used on various occasions and for specific functions.

Although Reid's initial proposal was formally adopted and made official in the Flag Act of 1818 by then president James Monroe, his proposal of three alternative designs was, for reasons unknown, never seriously considered or adapted.

Shown at the left (click each image to enlarge) are two images of the original document made by Reid where he details three different formats for the US flag.






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This page was last updated on May 16th, 2010



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