Why Snake?

After NC’s Mecklenburg Declaration in 1775– the first Declaration of Independence in the new world-  a corps of Marines was authorized by the Second Continental Congress to accompany the Navy on their first mission. Col. Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina described a standard of a rattle snake to the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Commodore Eseck Hopkins, who received the yellow flag as his personal standard.

The rattle snake had been used for over a decade, first introduced by a another wise printer, Ben Franklin, as a symbol of the Colonial unity. It was on the Gadsden flag the motto “Don’t Tread on Me” was first used. Later that year, the “American Guesser,” now generally considered to be Franklin, said of the flag: With her sharp eyes, the rattlesnake “may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage… she never wounds ’till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.”

Never used as a symbol of domination, is there may be no better symbol of the vigilance of Freedom- of what American stands for-than the Gadsden flag.

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