Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Cenez from Coppell, TX. Cenez Wonders, “Who sew the first American flag?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Cenez !
For certain American holidays such as Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, you’ll likely see plenty of American flags. But do you know much about this symbol? You might be surprised to learn that its beginnings aren’t exactly clear.
Most school-age children will tell you that Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. Are they right? Maybe . . .
According to Ross, three members of a secret committee from the Continental Congress visited her in May 1776. They asked her to sew the first American flag. Betsy attended church with George Washington and had sewn for him before. Some people believe it was their friendship that led him to ask her to sew the first flag.
Ross sewed the flag based on a drawing given to her by George Washington. However, no actual evidence exists that Betsy Ross made the first American flag. In fact, the first public mention of her story didn’t occur until almost 100 years after the fact.
At least one other woman—Rebecca Young—has also been given credit for making the first flag. She sewed the Grand Union Flag , which was used during the American Revolution. Some people consider this the U.S.’s first national flag. It was first designed by Francis Hopkinson, who later signed the Declaration of Independence.
Rebecca Young’s daughter, Mary Pickersgill, made the “Star-Spangled Banner Flag.” It flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. It was her flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that would become the U.S.’s national anthem.
It’s still unclear who came up with the design and actually sewed the first American flag. However, we do know that the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution on June 14, 1777. It stated: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”
The U.S. now observes Flag Day on June 14 each year. Since the first flag, the American flag’s design has been changed 26 times. Today’s version has 13 horizontal stripes—seven red and six white. These represent the original 13 colonies. The 50 stars represent the 50 states that make up the U.S.
The colors of the flag are also symbolic. Red stands for hardiness and valor. White symbolizes purity and innocence. Blue represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice. The American flag also goes by several nicknames. The most popular are the “Stars and Stripes,” “Old Glory,” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Will the flag ever change again? It’s certainly possible. For example, if a place like Washington, DC, or Puerto Rico gains statehood, stars will need to be added to represent them. Who could design a future flag? It could be anyone, even you!
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3