Don't tread on me

Topics: Boston Tea Party, Tea Party protests, Benjamin Franklin Pages: 6 (1013 words) Published: October 27, 2014
Blake Frazier
Writing 100
September 25, 2014

At first glance when you look at a Gadsden flag you see the bright yellow color and the bold statement “Don't Tread On Me” along with a rattlesnake above it. But what does these’s words mean. The Don’t Tread On Me slogan, is a slogan for every American. The Gadsden’s flag got its name from Colonel Christopher Gadsden who was an American patriot. He led Sons of Liberty in South Carolina starting in 1765. For those who are not familiar with them or who they were including myself. They are best known as the guys who started the Boston Tea Party in 1773. The organization was formed to protect the rights of the colonists and to stand up against the abuses of the British government. The leaders of the Sons of Liberty were mostly from the middle class, who were traders, craftsman, shoemakers, lawyers, and local politicians. They were know to be violent. Most believe that they did this to “turn up” the lower classes and get them actively involved in rebelling against the authorities. They were the rebels. Their motto became, “No taxation without representation.” Gadsden designed the flag for the organization in 1775 during the American Revolution.

The rattlesnake populates much of the original thirteen colonies is first used in the publications of Benjamin Franklin. In 1754, during the French and Indian War, Franklin

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published a woodcut of a snake into eight pieces which represented the colonies. Under the snake was the famous message “Join or Die.” As the American Revolution grew and the colonies came to familiarize themselves with each other and the concept of liberty. The snake became popular as a symbol of the colonies during the revolution. A literal example how the rattlesnake symbols

America is best explained by Benjamin Franklin, “Tis curious and amazing to observe how distinct and independent of each other the rattles of this animal are, and yet how firmly they are united together, so as never to be separated but by breaking them to pieces. One of those rattles singly is incapable of producing sound, but the ringing of thirteen together is sufficient to alarm the boldest man living.” The rattlesnake, like the bald eagle, came to symbolize American ideals and society.

The slogan “Don’t tread on me” is so popular that in late 1775 the first ships of the navy began flying “striped” flags with an uncoiled rattlesnake and the motto “Don’t Tread on Me” printed on it. The exact design of these flags is unknown. They were most commonly known as the First Navy Jack. In 1980 Edward Hidalgo, the Secretary of the Navy, ordered that the ship with the longest active status should display the First Navy Jack until inactive service. Then passed to the next ship in line. The ship with this honor today is the USS Blue Ridge. Shortly after post 9/11 the Secretary of the Navy directed all navy ships to fly the First Naval Jack during the Global War on Terrorism. In honor of those killed on the September 11, 2001 attack. The First Navy Jack has been authorized to wear as a patch by naval officers on the right sleeve of

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there uniforms. A First Navy Jack flag was placed at the makeshift memorial in Boston following the Boston Marathon bombings. It has also been used as a sign of protest. 

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On February 19, 2009, when Rick Santelli, a commentator on the news network CNBC, referenced the Boston Tea Party in his response on President Obama’s mortgage relief plan. He proposed a Chicago Tea Party to protest government involvement in the housing market. Weeks later, Tea Party organizations began to appear around the states. Using social media sites to organize protest events. Protesters claimed that “Tea” was

Figure 2: The flag at a Tea Party
protest in September 2009

abbreviated for “Taxed Enough Already” and adopted the Gadsden Flag as a symbol of the American Tea Party movement. See figure 2. As the tea party...

Cited: Franklin, Benjamin. “Join or Die.” Political Cartoon. The Pennsylvania Gazette 9 May 1754.
Library of Congress. Web. Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Nike. Nike, Inc., United States, 2014. Web Friday, October 3, 2014
Flock, Elizabeth. “Tea Party ‘Audit the IRS’ Rally About a Lot More Than the Tax Man.” U.S
News & World Report. “N.p” June 19, 2013. Web. Thursday, October 3, 2014
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