Who Designed The American Flag In 1777

Who Designed The American Flag In 1777

Who Designed The American Flag In 1777

The Designer of the American Flag: A Historical Enigma

The iconic American flag, a symbol of unity, freedom, and national pride, has graced the nation’s skyline for centuries. However, the identity of its designer has remained shrouded in mystery, with several individuals vying for the honor. The debate over who designed the American flag in 1777 has captivated historians, vexillologists, and the American public alike.

Francis Hopkinson: A Prominent Contender

One of the most prominent contenders is Francis Hopkinson, a versatile figure who served as a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a composer, and a naval officer. In May 1780, Hopkinson submitted a bill to the Continental Congress for "the flag of the United States." The bill listed the design as "thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; Union, thirteen stars, white in a blue field."

Hopkinson’s claim is supported by several pieces of evidence. First, his bill aligns with the design of the current flag. Second, Hopkinson was an active member of the committee tasked with designing the flag. Third, he was a skilled artist and engraver, making him a suitable candidate for such a significant task.

Betsy Ross: A Popular Legend

Another popular contender is Betsy Ross, a seamstress from Philadelphia. According to a family legend, Ross presented George Washington with a flag featuring thirteen stars and stripes in June 1776. Although there is no definitive historical record to support this claim, it has gained widespread acceptance in popular culture.

The Betsy Ross legend first appeared in 1870, when her grandson William J. Canby wrote an account of the event. However, no contemporary sources from 1776 or 1777 mention Ross’s involvement. Moreover, the design of the flag described by Canby differs from the one adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777.

Other Candidates

Besides Hopkinson and Ross, several other individuals have been proposed as the designer of the American flag. These include:

  • Colonel George Washington: As commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, Washington may have played a role in the flag’s design.
  • John Adams: A delegate to the Continental Congress, Adams proposed a similar flag design in a letter to Thomas Jefferson shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
  • Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson was also a delegate to the Continental Congress and a member of the committee responsible for designing the flag.

The Role of the Continental Congress

While the identity of the individual designer remains uncertain, it is clear that the Continental Congress played a significant role in the creation of the American flag. On June 14, 1777, the Congress passed a resolution establishing the design of the flag: "thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."

It is possible that the Continental Congress sought input from multiple individuals or committees before finalizing the design. The lack of a clear designer attribution may be due to the collaborative nature of the process and the importance of representing the collective efforts of the nascent nation.

Legacy and Significance

Regardless of who designed it, the American flag has become an enduring symbol of the United States and its values. It has flown over battlefields, summits, and sporting events, representing both the nation’s triumphs and its challenges. The debate over its designer adds an intriguing layer to its history, reminding us of the complexities of national identity and the collaborative spirit that forged the American experiment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Is there any definitive proof of who designed the American flag?
A: No, there is no definitive proof identifying the sole designer of the American flag.

Q: Who is generally considered the most likely designer?
A: Francis Hopkinson is widely considered the most likely designer based on contemporary evidence and his involvement in the Continental Congress.

Q: Did Betsy Ross actually make the first American flag?
A: There is no definitive historical record to support this claim. The Betsy Ross legend appeared over 90 years after the flag was adopted.

Q: Why is the design of the American flag attributed to multiple individuals?
A: The lack of a clear designer attribution may stem from the collaborative nature of the process and the importance of representing the collective efforts of the Continental Congress.

Q: What is the significance of the thirteen stars and stripes on the flag?
A: The thirteen stripes represent the thirteen original colonies, while the stars represent the union of the states.


  • "The Signers of the Declaration of Independence" by John Hancock and Henry Laurens
  • "The American Flag" by Whitney Smith
  • "The History of the American Flag" by Milo Milton Quaife
  • "The Betsy Ross Myth" by Charles A. Duell
  • "The Continental Congress and the Creation of the American Flag" by Don Higginbotham

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