The Grand Ole Flag by design


In observance of National Flay Day on June 14th, let’s re-visit the history and controversy surrounding WHO exactly designed the first official flag of the nation.

June 14th marks the observance of National Flag Day, the day the Second Continental Congress officially declared the national flag to be the Stars and Stripes. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing Flag Day as an annual national event, and in August of 1949, Harry S. Truman signed into law a National Flag Day observance to occur on June 14th of each year. 

But the question remains…did Betsy really sew that grand ole flag? Another person claiming to have created the original design for the flag was Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He requested payment from the Board of Admiralty stating that he was the one who designed the flag. No record exits of any one person receiving payment for the flag design.

The plot thickens. John and Betsy Ross attended services at the Episcopal church of Christ Church, the same house of worship that George Washington and his family attended. The two families became acquaintances. Approximately two years after John and Betsy were married, John Ross joined a military unit and was killed in the line of duty. Betsy inherited John’s share of his upholstery business and continued to provide sewing and upholstery services, military blankets, military uniforms repair, and yes, flag making.

According to Betsy’s family members, it was in May of 1776 when George Washington, George Ross (John’s uncle) and Robert Morris came to the upholstery shop and presented her with a rough design of the flag. Washington initially favored using a star with six points, but Betsy advocated for a five-point star which could be cut with just one quick snip of the scissors.

It appears that Francis Hopkinson designed the rough draft of the original flag with the help of others, and Betsy Ross made the final adjustments to the original design and sewed the nation’s first official flag.

Reference material taken in part from the following sources:

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