5 myths about the Stars and Stripes

5 myths about the Stars and Stripes

Americans love our flag. We display it at concerts and stadiums to celebrate, and at times of national tragedy to show our resolve. We have our schoolchildren pledge allegiance to it; we have consecrated it in our national anthem; we have a holiday, Flag Day, to honor it every June 14, as well as have it on prominent display for the Fourth of July.

See also: James Madison on public good versus private interest.

Yet the iconography and history of the American flag, especially its early history, are infused with myth and misrepresentation. Here are five of the most prevalent myths.

1. Betsy Ross made the first American flag.

The Betsy Ross story is the most tenacious piece of fiction involving the flag. There simply is no credible historical evidence — letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, bills of sale — that Ross (then known as Elizabeth Claypoole) either made or had a hand in designing the American flag before it made its debut in 1777.

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