The Pack Report

The History of the American Flag

The American Flag is a staple in our country’s history. We stand for it, pledge allegiance to it, raise it and lower it – depending on events and holidays – and we can hardly go a mile or two without seeing it somewhere. Whether it’s outside a residence, a school, placed in front of a building, or on a highway billboard, The American Flag is everywhere – and here at Duluth Pack, we are so proud to see it. Ask most, and they will know what it is as soon as you show it to them and what country it represents, but more and more people are falling short in understanding the history of our legendary flag. For example – do you know who designed it? What was their inspiration? That is why we, Duluth Pack, have taken it upon ourselves to discover and share how the stars and stripes came into existence.  

When the American Revolution broke out in 1775, the colonists didn’t yet unite under a single flag. Instead, according to Marc Leepson, author of the book, ‘Flag: An American Biography,’ they fought mainly under unit or regimental. There was never a flag that resembled any stars or stripes or red, white, and blue. In June of 1775, the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia created a united colonial fighting force known as the Continental Army. Many historians claim that George Washington, the army’s commander in chief, ordered that a flag called the Continental Colors be raised the following New Year’s Day. It was during a siege of British-occupied Boston; the Continental colors contained 13 alternating red and white stripes with a Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner. It has been said, that the flag was seen as a compromise between the radicals who wanted a separate nation and the people who were more conciliatory and wanted to see some accommodation with the crown.  

George Washington soon realized that it wasn’t a good idea to fly a flag resembling that of the enemy, so on June 14, 1777, as the Second Continental Congress was busy drafting the Articles of Confederation, they took time to pass a resolution stating that, “The flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white, and that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”  

It was almost unheard of for individuals to fly the American Flag until the Civil War broke out in 1861. At that time, the Stars and Stripes suddenly became a popular symbol in the North. Marc Leepson states, “This was the beginning of what some people call the cult of the flag, the almost religious feeling that many Americans still have for the red, white, and blue.” Until 1912, many flags were oddly proportioned or even had six or eight stars, but President William Howard Taft signed an executive order clarifying what the flag should look like. Four years later, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation officially establishing a nationwide observance of Flag Day on June 14, the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. And in 1949, President Harry Truman signed legislation designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day. 

To this day, no one knows exactly and solely who designed the American Flag or why that particular color combination and pattern were chosen. Legend holds that Betsy Ross made the first American Flag in 1776 after being asked to do so by Washington – her grandson even held a press conference touting her possible role in sewing the first flag back in 1870 – but primary sources backing up that assertion are now scarce today.  

Although the origins of the American Flag remain somewhat mysterious, it’s essential to understand the history of our beloved American Flag.  

Adventure on, friends!  

(All information found from

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