History and Symbolism of the American Flag

Many people use the American flag in different ways, but they don't really know what the flag represents and symbolizes. Let's know more about the American flag and what it signifies.
Historyplex Staff
Last Updated: Sep 13, 2018
American flag
The value of the American flag is much more than just a flag, it is related to national symbols, culture, and songs of the most powerful nation on the planet. A passionate emotion is created in the minds of people when Americans see their flag.
It truly is one of the most powerful symbols of liberty and freedom that has had a strong impact throughout the world. Its history traces back to around 200 years. However, the flag has gone through many changes and evolutions since the time it was first made. As different regions and states joined the nation, the stars were added to the design of the flag.
History
There were some early versions of the flag known by nationalists, such as the 'rattlesnake' or the 'Gadsden Flag', which can be seen on many bikers jackets. It was first introduced in the colonies in 1775, and included an imprint of a rattlesnake that was coiled, ready for attack, and had 13 rattles.
Some American historians believe that the rattlesnake was painted on the drums which were carried by marines who kept company with the first US Navy on a watercraft named 'The Alfred'. The 'Gadsden Flag' also had a motto 'Don't Tread on Me', which is considered a commanding and patriotic sign for the US armed forces.
The first flag was raised by George Washington at his headquarters, on January 1, 1776. It was named the 'Grand Union Flag'.
On June 14, 1777, the US congress introduced the 'Flag Act' which stated that the new flag would include 13 red and white stripes, and the same number of stars for the 13 colonies of the country. However, there were some changes in the layout, but no one knows who made the first flag.
Some believe that a lady named 'Betsy Ross' first sewed the flag in May, 1776, but this is an uncertain fact. However, some historians believe that the first American flag was designed by 'Francis Hopkinson', who belonged to the Continental Congress.
In 1792, the states of Vermont and Kentucky were added to the United States, and as a result, two stars and two stripes were incorporated in the American flag. The flag now consisted of 15 stars and 15 stripes, and was placed above the battlefield by Francis Scott Key who composed the 'Star-Spangled Banner'.
The US congress introduced another act which cut down the number of stripes on the flag to 13, and stated that the number of stars would be according to the number of colonies. The last star was eventually added to the American flag in 1960, when Hawaii was introduced into the Union. Now the US flag has 50 stars which represent the 50 states of the country.
Symbolism
The American flag is the most respected and recognized symbol in the USA. It is often displayed on government and public buildings, private residences, and is also used as a motif of decals for car windows. People also wear badges and lapel pins with the flag to display patriotism.
According to many people, it symbolizes the national government of the US constitution, a citizens rights as per the 'Bill of Rights', and individual liberty and freedom as introduced in the Declaration of Independence.
The colors and the shapes on the flag are not still defined by the constitution. As per ancient traditions, the stripes refer to 'rays of sunlight' and the stars refer to the 'heavens'. The red color in the flag refers to robustness and valor, white color refers to purity and innocence, and the blue color shows vigilance, perseverance, and justice.
Group Of People Waving American Flags
Since the September 11 terrorist attack, the American flag is displayed on private buildings, seen on cars, and exhibited everywhere possible. It certainly symbolizes the support and commitment of the government and citizens to justice and liberty to all.