Alternate Flags Of The United States

Alternate Flags Of The United States

Alternate Flags Of The United States

Alternate Flags of the United States: A Star-Spangled History

The iconic Stars and Stripes, a symbol of American pride and patriotism, has been the official flag of the United States since 1777. However, throughout its history, numerous alternate flags have emerged, each with its own unique story and significance. These flags reflect the nation’s diverse heritage, political divisions, and aspirations.

Betsy Ross Flag (1777)

The Betsy Ross Flag is the earliest known design of the American flag. According to legend, seamstress Betsy Ross presented George Washington with a flag featuring 13 alternating red and white stripes, representing the 13 original colonies, and 13 stars in a circle, symbolizing the unity of the new nation. While historical evidence supporting Ross’s involvement is limited, her flag remains a popular and enduring image.

Gadsden Flag (1775)

The Gadsden Flag, featuring a yellow field with a coiled rattlesnake and the words "DON’T TREAD ON ME," was first used by the Continental Marines during the American Revolutionary War. It symbolized resistance to British oppression and has been revived as a symbol of American defiance and the right to self-defense.

Stars and Bars (1861-1865)

The Stars and Bars was the unofficial flag of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. It featured three horizontal stripes—red, white, and red—with a blue field containing a circle of seven white stars, representing the seven seceded states. The flag symbolized the Confederacy’s struggle for independence and the preservation of slavery.

Red Ensign (1820-1960)

The Red Ensign, a variant of the British Red Ensign, was used by American merchant ships from 1820 until the early 20th century. It featured the British Union Jack in the canton (upper left corner) with vertical red and white stripes on the fly (right side). The flag denoted American vessels under British protection and was gradually phased out after the United States gained full independence.

51-Star Flag (2000)

In 2000, a proposal emerged to add 51 stars to the American flag to represent the inclusion of Puerto Rico as a state. The design quickly gained popularity among Puerto Rican activists and supporters. However, it remains unofficial and has not been formally adopted by the U.S. government.

50-Star Variant (1959-1960)

During the admission of Hawaii as the 50th state in 1959, an informal flag design emerged featuring a 50-star pattern in the canton. However, this variant was never officially sanctioned and quickly fell out of use after the official 50-star flag was introduced.

Proposed Redesign (1995)

In 1995, the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) proposed a new design for the American flag featuring a central canton with 50 stars arranged in a circle surrounded by 13 vertical stripes. The proposal aimed to address the concerns of both those who favored a 50-star design and those who preferred a return to the 13-star pattern. However, it ultimately failed to gain widespread support.

American Dream Flag (2014)

The American Dream Flag, designed by a group of artists and activists, features a blue field with 50 white stars in the shape of the American Dream logo. It symbolizes the ongoing struggle for economic and social equality in the United States. The flag has been adopted by various organizations and individuals as a symbol of hope and aspiration.


Q: Is there an official alternate flag of the United States?
A: No, the Stars and Stripes remains the only official flag of the United States.

Q: Why are alternate flags created?
A: Alternate flags can be created for various reasons, including political expression, historical commemoration, or artistic exploration.

Q: Can I use an alternate flag?
A: Most alternate flags are not recognized as official symbols of the United States, but their use is not typically prohibited. However, the U.S. Flag Code establishes guidelines for the display and use of the American flag.

Q: How are new flag designs proposed?
A: Individuals or organizations can propose new flag designs through various channels, but they are not guaranteed to be adopted officially.


  • NAVA: The North American Vexillological Association
  • Smithsonian National Museum of American History: Star-Spangled Banner
  • Library of Congress: Gadsden Flag
  • National Park Service: Stars and Bars
  • United States Code: U.S. Flag Code

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