Who Was Betsy Ross? The Story of How The First American Flag Was Sew and Why It Looked Differently

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As the United States celebrates its one of the biggest holidays, Independence Day,  Nexter.org decided to tell more about Betsy Ross who allegedly sew the very first American flag. 

The mysterious story of the American flag

Well, if you were born in the USA then the charming story of Betsy Ross and the first American flag has already riched you and not once. However, much as we might want to believe it, some historians have come to question the historical accuracy of the Betsy Ross flag story.

betsy-ross-american-flag-photo

Source: Getty Images

Before we discuss the controversy, let’s recollect in memory this story.

Legend has it that one day in 1776, George Washington, Robert Morris and George Ross (a relative of Betsy’s) called on Mrs. Ross, an upholsterer and seamstress. The men identified themselves as a congressional committee and asked for her help sewing a flag.

Washington reached into his coat pocket and took out a folded paper with a crude sketch of his vision for the flag. The design had 13 red and white stripes as well as 13 stars (each representing the 13 colonies and soon-to-be states). When asked if she could do it, Ross famously replied, “I do not know, but I will try”.

Supposedly, Ross suggested one important alteration to Washington’s design: Instead of six-pointed stars, she recommended five-pointed ones. The men agreed, and she set to work sewing the first American flag.

betsy-ross-american-flag-photo

Source: Getty Images

In an interview with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Marc Leepson, author of “Flag: An American Biography,” argued that the story is more fable than fact.

“Every historical study has come to the same conclusion,” he said. “There’s no good historical evidence that she did. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t. There’s simply a lack of documentation. Most historians believe the story is apocryphal.”

And regardless of whether the story of the very first flag is true, it’s an endearing one, and it endures.

Alternative version

However, some historians claim that if anyone deserves credit for designing the first American flag, it’s Francis Hopkinson.

betsy-ross-american-flag-photo

Source: Wiki

He was a representative of New Jersey in the Continental Congress and was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

In addition to being a politician, he was a lawyer, musician and poet. And on top of all that, he also happened to dabble in artistic design.

Hopkinson contributed to the design of numerous important symbols and seals for the United States in the nation’s infancy. Among them are the seal of New Jersey, the Continental Board of Admiralty seal, the seal of the American Philosophical Society, the Treasury seal and even the Great Seal of the United States.

And although Hopkinson is an acknowledged designer of these things, it’s possible he hasn’t gotten credit for the most notable of his designs – the American flag.

Nike featuring Betsy Ross flag

betsy-ross-american-flag-photo

Source: Nike

This week, Nike released distribution of a new sneaker featuring the “Betsy Ross” American flag, which features 13 stars in a circle for the original 13 states, however, droped this idea after backlash.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Nike (NKE) delivered the sneakers to retailers, but asked stores to return them to Nike after the company received a complaint from former NFL star Colin Kaepernick.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the decision came after former NFL player and activist Colin Kaepernick complained that the flag was a throwback to an era when prominent Americans held slaves.


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Who Was Betsy Ross? The Story of How The First American Flag Was Sew and Why It Looked Differently
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Who Was Betsy Ross? The Story of How The First American Flag Was Sew and Why It Looked Differently
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As the United States celebrates its one of the biggest holidays, Nexter.org decided to tell more about Betsy Ross who allegedly sew the very first American flag. 
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