Gadsden Flag History Lesson

Time to read
2 minutes
Read so far

Gadsden Flag History Lesson

March 29, 2013 - 09:57

Decal-Don't tread on me.cdr

By Jim Maisano

Since the Mayor of New Rochelle called the Gadsden Flag a "Tea Party flag" - it's clear he needs a history lesson. I found the following at: -


By 1775, the snake symbol wasn't just being printed in newspapers. It was appearing all over the colonies: on uniform buttons, on paper money, and of course, on banners and flags.

The snake symbol morphed quite a bit during its rapid, widespread adoption. It wasn't cut up into pieces anymore. And it was usually shown as an American timber rattlesnake, not a generic serpent.

We don't know for certain where, when, or by whom the familiar coiled rattlesnake was first used with the warning "Don't Tread on Me."

We do know when it first entered the history books.

In the fall of 1775, the British were occupying Boston and the young Continental Army was holed up in Cambridge, woefully short on arms and ammunition. At the Battle of Bunker Hill, Washington's troops had been so low on gunpowder that they were ordered "not to fire until you see the whites of their eyes."

In October, a merchant ship called The Black Prince returned to Philadelphia from a voyage to England. On board were private letters to the Second Continental Congress that informed them that the British government was sending two ships to America loaded with arms and gunpowder for the British troops.

Congress decided that General Washington needed those arms more than the British. A plan was hatched to capture the cargo ships. They authorized the creation of a Continental Navy, starting with four ships. The frigate that carried the information from England, the Black Prince, was one of the four. It was purchased, converted to a man-of-war, and renamed the Alfred.

To accompany the Navy on their first mission, Congress also authorized the mustering of five companies of Marines. The Alfred and its sailors and marines went on to achieve some of the most notable victories of the American Revolution. But that's not the story we're interested in here.

What's particularly interesting for us is that some of the Marines that enlisted that month in Philadelphia were carrying drums painted yellow, emblazoned with a fierce rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike, with thirteen rattles, and sporting the motto "Don't Tread on Me."

More about Gadsden Flag at these links:

Jim Maisano is the Minority Leader of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. He represents District 11 covering New Rochelle and Pelham. You can follow Jim on Facebook, Twitter or on his Blog. You can contact Jim at 914-995-2826 or [email protected]

There are 4 Comments

Thanks for setting forth the truth Leg. Maisano.

Thank you for setting Bramson straight. You are a Marine and a patriot and you know what it is like to put your life on the line for all of us, even Bramson. God Bless America and God bless all who served under the Gadson flag throughout our wonderful history.


I spent 6 years in the Navy 4 of them at the Armory.
How dare them take down our flag. It just shows what a BULLY
Noam Bramson is

You're dealing with men who deal with one another using hash tags, trying to create some buzz around their pathetic lives. Would you expect them to respect veterans? Would you expect them to look beyond politics? We're not talking about the swastika here, where some have used it in the past claiming it predates the Nazi Party. That is true, but for those groups, they're just playing games. This is not the case here. These juveniles in NR government are just waiting to be called up by a cable news channel as a guest. That's "making it" to them. They've lost or never had the ability to deal with the public as adults. Fertel looks like a fish out of water when he walks around parts of town will people who don't look like him. They are jokes and they know it. They know they aren't needed by men like the veterans and it makes them angry and resentful. It's really too bad they have to be in the same room with these men. Let them get their payoffs and make whatever they want with the armory. This is the problem when dealing with governments - you have to look for favors from incompetent officials elected by ignorant citizens.