Who really created and sewed the first american flag?

Discussion in 'American Flag History' started by micheler, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. micheler

    micheler Guest

    I was just informed that it is a myth that Betsy Ross sewed our first american flag was wondering if anyone has heard this or has any evidence supporting or deneying this claim???
  2. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    The Betsy Ross story began in 1870 when her grandson wrote a paper stating that he heard the story from his garndma that G Washington visited her in 1776 and asked her to sew a flag. There is absolutely no contemporary evidence to support that family legend. We do know that Ms. Ross sewed flags, and most likely did sew some of the first American flags, but there were many other flagmakers in Philadelphia at the time that could have made it. Francis Hopkinson designed the flag but Congress refused to pay him since they thought that was part of his duty as a public servant.
  3. Shelby92

    Shelby92 New Member

    Betsy Ross did not make the first american flag even though she was born before Mary Pickersgill. Betsy made a completely different flag from the original that Mary did. Betsy out a symbol on the flag only to be flown in towns. When Mary made the flag for the forts and the signal flags for the U.S navy and army ships. Mary made the first real american flag for the forts when the General offered her to make them and paid her 409.50 dollars for both the bug flag and the small flag. She made the big flag to been flown in the day and the small flag for the nights cold hard weather. So the answer is that Mary Pickersgill was the first to make the american flag. :)
  4. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Mary Pickersgill absolutely did sew the Star Spangled Banner for Major Armistead of Ft. McHenry, Baltimore, in 1814, I've no quarrel with that. However it was 38 years after the congressional flag resolution of 1777. I think it very likely that flagmakers in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and other coastal cities were making "American Flags" long before 1814. I would even bet that Betsy Ross sewed American flags of 13 stars and 13 stripes in the 1770's and 1780's, but there's no solid evidence that she sewed the first one. (Let me put it this way. If sewing the first American flag were a crime,
    Betsy Ross could not be convicted due to a lack of evidence.)
  5. uncleflag

    uncleflag New Member

    Hi Shelby92, very interesting comments. Where did you get your sources for Mary Pickersgill? I read something similar.
  6. uncleflag

    uncleflag New Member

    Hi micheler! Don't you hate it when our history teachers definitively teach us something only for us to find out later It absolutely holds no merit. You got Chris Columbus, the whole JFK thing, and Betsy.. What’s next?:D
  7. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Where did you get your sources for Mary Pickersgill?

    The story of Mary Pickersgill and the "Star Spangled Banner" is well documented, and there are many books on the subject. The one that I would recommend is "The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag that Inspired the National Anthem" by Lonn Taylor. The author is a historian at the Smithsonian, where the SSB is preserved. Mary Pickersgill's home in Baltimore is preserved as a historic site and museum. See The Flag House & Star-Spangled Banner Museum

    Don't you hate it when our history teachers definitively teach us something only for us to find out later It absolutely holds no merit.

    Many people (including history teachers!) do not realize that history is like any other field of knowledge -- it's dynamic. We're constantly uncovering new information and using it to modify and improve our understanding of past events. The actual facts of history (dates, etc.) may be "definitive," but as soon as you get into the whys and wherefores, there is room for analysis and interpretation.

    It's kind of amusing that historians are sometimes accused of "revisionism," as if that were a bad thing. All good history is revisionist to some extent. The point is that new interpretatations must be based on solid facts, good analysis and logical reasoning.

    Peter Ansoff
  8. bronny49

    bronny49 New Member

    I just read this series and I want to add something:

    Betsy Ross made flags for the PA navy and probably did so for the new US Navy that was started in Philadelphia. It is possible she made the first Stars and Stripes in the square format, but there is no documentary evidence of that. But it coluld be the original source of jthe story her grandson related almost 100 years later. The circle pattern attributed to her was not recorded anywhere until later drawings some years after the war. That design was adopted by the Army circa 1790. It can be considered to be the first flag under the new Constitution. The 1795 statute approved the 15-star/15-stripe format that was official until 1818.
    There is no record that G Washington was ever involved in the design of the original Stars and Stripes. There are records that his quartermaster ordered flags from Rebecca Young of Phildelphia. Rebecca's daughter was Mary Pickersgill who made the huge Ft. McHenry flag, the Star Spangled Banner. Her house is an authentic Flag House where she lived and sewed stars and made long stripes; but the flag was put together at a nearby brewery because of the space needed. That flag has just been reconditioned at the Smithsonian. Mrs. Pickersgill also founded the first "retirement home" for the aged. That enterprise is in fact still operating on Joppa Road in Towson, MD. She left two fine monuments to her work and her care for others.

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