The legend of Betsy Ross dates all the way back to 1776 when the seamstress reportedly met with George Washington to discuss designs for the American flag. She told the same thing to her grandchildren when they were young and in 1870 her grandson relayed the tales told by his grandmother to the Pennsylvania Historical Society. In those days, flags were not as available as they are now and one of the few places to get one was to contract an upholsterer to make it. Betsy Ross was an upholsterer who made flags for the navy, so the assumption makes sense. Whether true or not, the Betsy Ross flag will forever be named after this dynamic seamstress who may have had a big hand in creating her own legend.
5 things to know about the original Betsy Ross flag
The five-pointed star on the American flag was Betsy Ross' idea
In stories told to her grandchildren and passed down through Betsy Ross' family, the idea of the 5-pointed star on the USA flag was her idea because it was easier to cut than the 6-headed star. George Washington had gone to visit Mrs Ross to discuss the design of the flag and when he showed her a crude outline of what he wanted 6-headed stars, she showed him how easily a 5-headed star could be cut in one snip. The stars on the American flags designed by Betsy Ross were revolutionary as the standard star for most flags was 6-headed.
The Betsy Ross flag may not have been designed by someone else
The 13 colonies' flag known as the Betsy Ross flag could have been designed by a man named Frances Hopkinson who is credited for helping with the design of the great seal of the United States. There is evidence to suggest that Hopkinson issued a bill for a quarter-cask of wine for designing the flag which was never paid. Despite the evidence, the flag is still credited to Betsy Ross and bears her name.
The inspiration for the stars, stripes and red, white and blue flag
The flag of the USA designed by Betsy Ross bears a striking resemblance to the British flag which also contained red and white stripes but had a Union Jack in the corner. There was a theory that the flag was inspired by Washington's family's coat of arms but that theory has since been discredited. Other historians believe that the stars and stripes are symbolic of mankind striving for something greater than himself. Whatever the inspiration, the Betsy Ross flag continues to be a symbol of this great nation's independence from Britain.
Betsy Ross produced the first red, white and blue flag in her back Parlor
When Betsy Ross' grandson perpetuated the story of his grandmother's fateful meeting with three members of the Continental Congress, George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross, asked her to sew the first flag. The meeting was attributed to the friendship Betsy Ross and George Washington had and it was believed that this friendship is what led him to contract Ross to design the flag. Betsy Ross' family believed by the Ross family that during this meeting, Betsy convinced Washington that the five-headed star would be much easier for mass production of the flag and he agreed with her suggestions. She is said to have made the flag in her back parlor right after that meeting. The red and white flag stripes on the original design did not differ greatly from Washington's suggestions, but the blue union field with the circle of stars was said to be influenced by Mrs Ross.
The flag with the ring of stars is commonly referred to as the Besty Ross flag
Even though there is little proof that Betsy Ross designed it, the flag with the ring of stars is always attributed to the upholsterer. The ring of stars has been referred to as a new constellation to represent the new union of the original 13 colonies.
When you are looking to display the American flag at your home to show your patriotism, remember that you have several choices of flags to choose from. While most will display the current version of the American flag and their state flag, it is common for Americans to fly a Betsy Ross flag beside their others. When displaying more than one flag, look at the US flag dimensions that are appropriate for your home as well as what the proper flag etiquette is for multiple flags.