In the fall of 1775, the British were occupying Boston and the young Continental Army was holed up in Cambridge, lacking the necessary supplies to last through the season. Welcome to the Battle of Bunker Hill. It was here that Washington's troops—the young continental army—had been so low on gunpowder that they were ordered: "not to fire until you see the whites of their eyes."
Soon enough, a merchant ship was returning to Philadelphia from a voyage to England. On board were private letters to the Second Continental Congress that informed Washington’s troops that the British government was sending two ships their way loaded with arms and gunpowder. An opportunity to capture supplies that they couldn’t afford not to capitalize on.
A plan was hatched by Washington and the Second Continental Congress to capture the cargo ships. To do so, they quickly authorized the creation of a Continental Navy, starting with four ships, including the merchant ship that carried the information from England. To accompany the Navy on their first mission, Congress also authorized the mustering of five companies of Marines. Some of the Marines that enlisted that month in Philadelphia were carrying drums painted yellow, emblazoned with a fierce rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike, with thirteen rattles, and sporting the motto "Don't Tread on Me."
Christopher Gadsden was an American patriot. He led the Sons of Liberty in South Carolina starting in 1765 and was later made a colonel in the Continental Army. In 1775, he was in Philadelphia representing his home state in the Continental Congress. He was also one of three members of the Marine Committee.
It’s no secret that Gadsden made his money as a merchant in South Carolina, and both owned and sold slaves. For context into the time period, his fellow American patriot, and slave owner, Benjamin Franklin, actually helped him design the American rattlesnake symbol used on the Gadsden flag.
Gadsden, who was often called “the Sam Adams of the South,” was a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress, delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, and commander of the 1st South Carolina Regiment of the Continental Army. Both he and Franklin were staunch American patriots.
Gadsden presented a copy of his flag to his state legislature in Charleston. As recorded in the South Carolina congressional journals:
"Col. Gadsden presented to the Congress an elegant standard, such as is to be used by the commander in chief of the American navy; being a yellow field, with a lively representation of a rattle-snake in the middle, in the attitude of going to strike, and these words underneath, "Don't Tread on Me!"
The Gadsden Flag was intentionally designed not to convey a racist message, but a patriotic one. Here are a few notes on the flag’s symbolism, written by his friend and colleague, Ben Franklin.
The Rattlesnake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America
The rattlesnake also has sharp eyes, and "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
The rattle = the number of the Colonies united in America
We live in a dangerous time. U.S. history is being rewritten and forever changed. Our flags intended for patriotic cheer, like the Gadsden Flag, are being considered racist by those who are either ignorant, uneducated, or simply want to be offended by anything patriotic or opposing government overreach.
Communists and Socialists favor government overreach and control of all businesses. An environment where the government can take over your business, force you to shut down or do anything else a bureaucrat decides they want to do. The Gadsden flag flies in the face of that ideology. To these groups, the Gadsden flag is like a cross to a vampire.
Our club is proud of our patriotic past, standing up to the British in The American Revolution, The Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Pledge of Allegiance. Our club has symbols of American Patriotism throughout the club. If you're a socialist or communist this is NOT the club for you.