This website uses cookies to improve your experience.

Please enable cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

Sign the petition

to call for a

Convention of States!

signatures

The REAL history behind the Gadsden flag

Published in Blog on September 01, 2023 by Jakob Fay

This week, a 12-year-old boy went viral after being booted from class for wearing a Gadsden flag patch on his backpack.

“The reason we do not want the flag displayed is due to its origins with slavery and slave trade," a school administrator informed the boy and his mom.

She would soon receive a history lesson she won’t soon forget.

The boy’s mom fired back that the popular “Don’t Tread on Me” flag has nothing to do with slavery, but represents colonial resistance to tyranny. A viral video of the exchange raked in dozens of millions of views, eventually forcing the school to walk back its actions. Young Jaiden Rodriguez quickly became an overnight sensation, appearing on high-profile conservative podcasts, including The Ben Shapiro Show and The Charlie Kirk Show.

Backlash to the school’s shocking historical ignorance was so fierce, even Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a liberal Democrat, chimed in:

“Obviously the Gadsden flag is a proud symbol of the American revolution and a [sic] iconic warning to Britain or any government not to violate the liberties of Americans,” the governor wrote. “It appears on popular American medallions and challenge coins through today and Ben Franklin also adopted it to symbolize the union of the 13 colonies. It’s a great teaching moment for a history lesson!”

So, what is the real history behind this popular American icon?

In 1754, Benjamin Franklin popularized the rattlesnake as a symbol of colonial unity in his “Join or Die” political cartoon. Published in his Pennsylvania Gazette, the cartoon depicted a snake cut into eight parts, each representing a colony standing on its own in the face of French aggression. America had recently suffered a military defeat in the French and Indian War, and Franklin worried about how the colonies would fare standing on their own. Shortly thereafter, he proposed a unified colonial government at the Albany Convention.

In the decades that followed, the rattlesnake remained a recognizable emblem of American unity. By the time of the Revolutionary War, the snake’s demeanor (generally docile until provoked) would define how the colonists intended to respond to British force. When coiled, the snake—just like the flag that bore its likeness—warned would-be foes that it would not hesitate to defend itself.

“She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders,” Franklin wrote. “She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage.”

In December 1775, Commander of the Navy, Esek Hopkins, attached a flag plastered with the snake and now-famous slogan to the USS Alfred, the flag’s design apparently borrowed from yellow-painted drums of the brand-new Marine Corps. Christopher Gadsden, a delegate to the Continental Congress who had initially designed Hopkins’ flag, would later present it to the Provincial Congress of South Carolina, which deemed it an “elegant standard, such as is to be used by the commander in chief of the American navy; being a yellow field, with a lively representation of a rattle-snake in the middle in the attitude of going to strike and these words underneath, ‘Don't Tread on Me!’”

Although the flag was later employed by both the North and the South in the Civil War, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2014 determined: “It is clear that the Gadsden Flag originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context.”

Whatever political connotations the flag may carry, the claim that it shares "its origins with slavery and slave trade” is patently false. Thankfully, through the courageous life of Jaiden Rodriguez, we can see that the original spirit of the flag is still alive and well today.

Sign the petition to call for an Article V convention!

2,601,311 signatures

Petition your state legislator

Almost everyone knows that our federal government is on a dangerous course. The unsustainable debt combined with crushing regulations on states and businesses is a recipe for disaster.

What is less known is that the Founders gave state legislatures the power to act as a final check on abuses of power by Washington, DC. Article V of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the state legislatures to call a convention to proposing needed amendments to the Constitution. This process does not require the consent of the federal government in Washington DC.

I support Convention of States; a national movement to call a convention under Article V of the United States Constitution, restricted to proposing amendments that will impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit its power and jurisdiction, and impose term limits on its officials and members of Congress.

I want our state to be one of the necessary 34 states to pass a resolution calling for this kind of an Article V convention. You can find a copy of the model resolution and the Article V Pocket Guide (which explains the process and answers many questions) here: https://conventionofstates.com/handbook_pdf

I ask that you support Convention of States and consider becoming a co-sponsor. Please respond to my request by informing the national COS team of your position, or sending them any questions you may have:

info@conventionofstates.com or (540) 441-7227.

Thank you so much for your service to the people of our district.

Respectfully, [Your Name]

By checking this box, you agree to receive text messages sent via an “autodialer”. Our text messages are intended to inform you of events, calls to action, volunteering opportunities, and other matters pertaining to self-governance. Text STOP to stop receiving messages. Text HELP for more info. Message frequency varies. Message and data rates may apply. View Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Provide your full address and we will deliver your petition directly to your state legislators now and again during the legislative sessions, Free of Charge. We Protect your privacy.

We welcome all US citizens to support our movement by signing the petition. To deliver the petition to your state legislators, you must enter your full address, which must be within one of the 50 states. For military personnel serving overseas, or for expatriates, enter your Voting Residence Address .

Please be sure to check the "Send me email updates" box, and include your phone number above.

How did you hear about us:


Click here to get involved!
Convention of states action

Are you sure you don't want emailed updates on our progress and local events? We respect your privacy, but we don't want you to feel left out!

Processing...