As the American colonies came to identify more with their own communities and the concept of liberty, rather than as vassals of the British empire, icons that were unique to the Americas became increasingly popular. The rattlesnake, like the bald eagle and American Indian, came to symbolize American ideals and society.
As the American Revolution grew, the snake began to see more use as a symbol of the colonies.
The rattlesnake symbol was first officially adopted by the Continental Congress in 1778 when it approved the design for the official Seal of the War Office. This design of the War Office Seal was carried forward — with some minor modifications — into the subsequent designs for the War Department’s Seal, and the Department of the Army’s Seal, Emblem and Flag. As such, the rattlesnake symbol has been in continuous official use by the US Army for over 236 years.
In 1776, Continental Colonel Christopher Gadsden presented a copy of the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag to the Congress of South Carolina:
Col. Gadsden presented to the Congress 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 rattlesnake in the middle in the attitude of going to strike and these words underneath, “Don’t tread on me.”
Considered one of the first flags of the United States, the flag was later replaced by the current Stars and Stripes (or Old Glory) flag. Since the Revolution, the flag has seen resurgences as a symbol of American patriotism, disagreement with government, or support for civil liberties.
We invite you to proclaim your patriotism, skepticism of government, and support of civil liberties boldly with this classic design.
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