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Veterans Day 2012: Remembering America's First Flag

America's First Flag

Above is a picture of America's first flag, also known as the Grand Union Flag.

You've probably heard of it, or seen it.  This is the picture I carry of it, as the background image on my phone.  Whenever I get a chance, I show it to long time Bostonians, and ask them if they have ever seen it.  Invariably, they haven't.  I never had either, until about a year ago when I moved just a few blocks from where the flag was first hoisted by General George Washington on January 1, 1776, on Prospect Hill in Somerville, Massachusetts (back then, Charlestown).

It is a beautiful flag.  I love looking at it, and see her almost daily on my morning runs and midnight walks. Where the stars would be on our current flag, instead you see the British Union Jack.  I cannot look at it without pondering its significance. The flag was raised after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, but before America formally declared her independence.  General Washington raised the flag in the midst of  warfare, strife and revolution, in the latter half of the Siege of Boston, when the future was anything but certain.

Today the flag is long forgotten by most.  It was even left off this chronology of American flags I spotted in the gift shop of the Old North Church:

American Flag Chronology

Prospect Hill is nowhere to be found on the Freedom Trail, which forms a compact loop in downtown Boston.  Tourist busses do not make regular stops, spilling out their passengers, as they do in Lexington and Concord.  That is fine by me. The sleepy solitude of Prospect Hill Park makes it one of Boston's best kept secrets, and a lovely place to read, meditate, or lay in the grass and ponder the state of the world.

Prospect Hill Park

The rhythmic banging of the flagpole is a comforting, ever present sound, though during Hurricane Sandy, I was afraid she might just blow away!

First Flag During Hurricane Sandy

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It was easy

The Navy ensign that all colonial ships had was red with the union jack in the field. Once independent the colonies broke the red field with the rebel stripes of the Son's of Liberty. All any ship had to do was add white stripes to their current flag, no new purchase necessary, and they were all set.

Being part of England was not shameful. As Tom Woods's writes in his Politically Incorrect Guide to US History, the revolution was a conservative reaction of Englishmen demanding their rights as Englishmen. Breaking apart the ensign and leaving the union jack in the corner would not have been as weird for them then as it appears to us now.

If a future American revolution ever happens, I imagine the rebels will use the Stars and Stripes in one form or another.


So the story of Betsy Ross is BS? Hmmm. Wouldn't surprise me. Nothing does anymore. Anyway, Thank you Michael for all you do and for creating DP.


I remember that flag

Beautiful flag, by the way.

My parents used to drag me to historical sites when I was in grade school, but I was kind interested in history.

Thank you for the pictures.

Edit: Does anyone know the role that the building plays?

And this next year of two, a

And this next year of two, a new Star will likely be added to the present day flag. Welcome Puerto Rico, the 51st State of this fine fine Union. ( is there a secession petition started yet for Puerto Rico?)

"Ehhh, What's ups Doc?" B.Bunny "Scwewy Wabbit!"E. Fudd
People's Awareness Coalition: Deprogramming Sequence

That's the key to the real

That's the key to the real secret that they don't want you to know. The United States are still a colony ruled by the Queen. They just have a lot of distractions to keep people from noticing who is really in charge. The 'Sons of Liberty' chose the flag that was the flag of the British East Indian Tea company as their flag for a reason.

The first American flag was

The first American flag was the Betsy Ross. i guess the one you posted would be the flag to fly if the British defeated us. But We won so u should honor the Betsy Ross for the first flag.

Here's the only flag I'll ever fly...


Check out the Laissez-Faire Journal at LFJournal.com

"The State is a gang of thieves writ large." - Murray Rothbard

Not the first flag at all.

The Pine Tree Flag http://cowboypress.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/an_appeal_to_... or Appeal to Heaven Flag, a traditional symbol of New England, was the first flag adopted by an American government. http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagfact.html The motto "Appeal To Heaven" was flown by ships in the Massachusetts Navy at the beginning of the American Revolution.

Unless, you mean officially, then it still isn't the first because the Union Jack represented the colonies allegiance to Great Britain prior to independence being declared. Betsy Ross' 13 star flag marked the beginning of an independent nation named the United States of America.

You know what

I find interesting?

That Ron Paul / Daily Paul supporters might be viewed as terrorists. Yet the same people seem to know more about the origins and other aspects of this nation than anybody I've ever known.

I Know Right?

It is because they wish for us never to restore this country back to its former glory. They wish for it to crash and burn as soon as possible, and we are in the way of that. So... they call us terrorists. Make sense?

Nice flag. IMO, symbols come

Nice flag. IMO, symbols come and symbols go, they are only significant in the mind of the beholder. I am proud of my American and British heritage. My ancesters came to America during the early 1700s and first settled on the east coast -- Virginia and North Carolina. Thanks Michael for sharing.

Mine did too.

Mine did too.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

henry9's picture

It looks like it is holding up well...

after all these years.

You can't but wonder what the commoners thought of it.

Thanks for the image!

Posted Below

Screw British heritage and philosophy such as all the people who died for freedom there and the Magna Charta, Petition of Right, Habeas Corpus, Bill of Rights, John Locke, George Washington British trained soldier, William Blackstone, William Wilberforce, Wesley, etc. ... ;)



Learned something new.
Thanks Michael.

LL on Twitter: http://twitter.com/LibertyPoet
sometimes LL can suck & sometimes LL rocks!
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

George Carlin said...

"I leave symbols for the symbol minded."

How can a flag possibly represent an individual, much less an entire country of individuals.


Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. ~Thomas Paine

The first time I saw the

The first time I saw the Grand Union flag was in the 2008 HBO mini-series "John Adams"

My favorite flag however, is the 1777 version with the circle of stars

It is a pretty flag

I didn't know that the union jack was ever part of an American flag. I've always thought the union jack and the American flag were beautiful. Of course, I've come to understand and reject what they stand for. My favorite flag is now a banner that isn't all that visually attractive, but represents something that could bring people around the world together. Would be great to see this flag replace the national banner in front yards and on bumber stickers around the country, and hopefully world-wide.


That is very interesting. I

That is very interesting. I cannot recall ever seeing that before. Thank you for posting this.

Larry in North Carolina
The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to not support Ron Paul!

don't much care that it's

don't much care that it's forgotten
screw the British flag, that parasite is already on like 10 other countries flags :P


Screw British heritage and philosophy such as all the people who died for freedom there and the Magna Charta, Petition of Right, Habeas Corpus, Bill of Rights, John Locke, George Washington British trained soldier, William Blackstone, William Wilberforce, Wesley, etc. ... ;)


Amen, brother...

We fought to get out from under that evil empire. The Scottish, Welsh and English flags are great, but that Union Jack is stained with the blood of my ancestors. Good riddance to it.