Betsy Ross: the Mother of Our Flag

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When you think of women in American history, Betsy Ross always comes to mind, along with other great women such as Amelia Earhart, Jane Addams, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Betsy Ross is unique because she helped to create one of our nation’s most recognized symbols – the American flag. By sewing The Stars and Stripes flag, she helped make it easier to display our patriotism and love for our country.

Elizabeth Griscom was born in Philadelphia on January 1, 1752. Born the 8th of 17 children to Samuel and Rebecca Griscom. Called Betsy by her family, she was raised of the Quaker faith. While growing up, she was recognized and praised for her needlework and became an apprentice in an upholstery shop. (Miller, Susan Martins. Betsy Ross: American Patriot. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000.; DeBarr, Candice M.; Bonkowske, Jack A. Saga Of the American Flag: An Illustrated History. Tucson: Harbinger House, Inc., 1990.)

In 1773, she fell in love with and married fellow apprentice, John Ross. John and Betsy started an upholstery business of their own. During Betsy’s life, she was married and widowed three times and had seven children, two of which died. Two of her husbands were killed during the Revolutionary War. Betsy still managed to keep her upholstery business up and running through all of this tragedy and with the impact of the British occupation on Philadelphia during the Revolutionary war. (Harkins, Susan Sales; Harkins, William H. The Life and Times of Betsy Ross. Mitchell Lane Publisher, Inc., 2007)

Betsy Ross is best known for designing the first American flag. George Washington, whom she attended church with every Sunday, scheduled a meeting with Betsy, George Ross, and Robert Morris. At this meeting, they discussed designs for the flag. The meeting resulted in the first sewing of the stars and stripes flag that our country still has today. People protested that five-point stars were difficult for seamstresses to make. Betsy silenced them by...
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