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13 Star Flags - (1777-1795) (U.S.)

Last modified: 2002-11-16 by rick wyatt
Keywords: thirteen | united states |
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[U.S. 13 star flag 1777 ] by Mark Sensen, 4 December 1997

See also:

The thirteen stars and thirteen stripes represented the thirteen original colonies:
Connecticut - Delaware - Georgia - Maryland - Massachusetts - New Hampshire - New Jersey
New York - North Carolina - Pennsylvania - Rhode Island - South Carolina - Virginia

[Continental Congress's June 14, 1777 flag resolution]
Continental Congress's June 14, 1777 Flag Resolution
by Joe McMillan, 14 June 2000

Description of the flag

During the Revolutionary War, numerous flags were used. After the Declaration of Independence was signed on 4 July 1776, the people realized they needed one flag to replace all the assortment of flags used previously. On 14 June 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the following resolution:

"RESOLVED, that the flag of the 13 United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white: That the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."
Because the resolution was not specific there were a number of variations of the 13 star flag.

Although legend has it that Betsy Ross sewed the first flag from a design by George Washington, this has not been substantiated. The first documented U.S. flag was the staggered star pattern shown above. A strong case for the designer of the first flag is Francis Hopkinson. A delegate from New Jersey to the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He submitted a bill to Congress for "currency designs, design for the great seal of the U.S., a treasury seal, a design for the flag ..."

Some 13 Star Designs

Some of the 13 star flags used are shown below. A link indicates a page about that particular flag in more detail.

[U.S. 13 star Bennington flag 1777 ]
by Rick Wyatt
14 November 1997

[U.S. 13 star Betsy Ross flag 1777 ]
Betsy Ross
by Mark Sensen
4 December 1997

[U.S. 13 star Cowpens flag 1777 ]
by Rick Wyatt
9 July 2001

[13 Star Flag]
Six Pointed Star Design
by Steven M. Schroeder
18 November 2000

[U.S. 13 star Shaw flag]
John Shaw(white first stripe)
by Rick Wyatt
3 April 2002

[U.S. 13 star Shaw flag]
John Shaw(red first stripe)
by Rick Wyatt
3 April 2002

[U.S. 13 star flag 1777 ] by Dave Martucci, 6 December 1997

This flag is a "typical" 13 star flag of the early period. Although there were countless variations, this one shows some of the common traits. Specifically, note that the stars point every which way. This was common prior to the last quarter of the 19th century.
Dave Martucci, 6 December 1997

17 Stripe Flag On Bank Note

[U.S. 13 star flag image on bank note] by Devereaux Cannon, 22 February 2000

I have an interest in early forms of the U.S. flag. Yesterday I came across one that is not an actual cloth flag, but is depicted in a vignette on an 1854 banknote of a Tennessee bank. The flag in question has 13 stars, arranged in three rows of 5/3/5. It has a total of 17 stripes, 9 white and 8 red. Also of interest is the extreme length of the flag, which is proportioned approximately 3:1.
Devereaux Cannon, 22 February 2000

9 Stripe Flag

[U.S. 13 star/9 stripe flag] by Devereaux Cannon, 19 February 2001

The closest thing I could find is a flag with 13 stars and 9 stripes in "The Stars and The Stripes" by Boleslaw and Marie-Louise D'Otrange Mastai. The flag is in the Mastai Collection, and the book identifies it as a sea captain's flag from the time of the revolution.
Devereaux D. Cannon, Jr., 19 February 2001

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