Don’t Tread on Me – What It Means Today

don't tread flag

 

Don’t Tread on Me is a very strong statement in the United States with very deep historical roots. The phrase was written under the image of a rattle snake and emblazoned on a yellow flag. This is known as the Gadsden flag and falls within the historical flags of America.

What Does It Mean?

The symbolism in the flag partnered by the image holds deep meaning. Basically, the “Don’t Tread on Me” phrase combined with the snake ready to strike is a warning. This tells people not to step on or take advantage of the Americans or they will strike.  Unfortunately, it appears that different groups and individuals throughout the country, interpret the symbol to mean a whole lot of other things besides its original intent.

For example,  in 2014, an African American postal worker submitted an official complaint which made its way to the courts, alleging that he was discriminated against by a co-worker who simply wore a hat with the snake symbol.  Apparently, it was racist in his eyes.

Some have said that because some Tea Party backers like the flag, it’s now a symbol of “anti-government overreach, 2nd Amendment enthusiasts”.

This is ABSOLUTELY THE BEST collection of Don’t Tread on Me Patches ever assembled in one place!  Seriously!
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The use of the snake or more specifically the rattlesnake did not happen by chance. The fact is that the eastern diamondback rattlesnake and the timber rattlesnake were both fairly abundant within the colonies. In a satirical article, Benjamin Franklin suggested that the Americas send rattlesnakes to Britain as a response to their sending of convicted criminals to the colonies.

In one of America’s earliest political cartoons, Franklin published a picture of a segmented snake to symbolize a divided America.  His point was to admonish all colonial Americans to unite or die.  Whatever one may say of, or think of the symbol of the “don’t tread on me” flag, there is no doubt that its actual origin is 100% pro-revolution and anti-British.  It was conceived of and developed in a totally non-racial context during the revolutionary war.

The unfortunate truth is that often, the meaning of symbols is fluid and changing.  Even the much-hated-for-good-reason Nazi Swastika was used in numerous contexts before the conception of the Nazi party.  Believe it or not, it was even used in some official contexts within the American Military!  Among other meanings, it is clear that it is often adopted by those with a general or even vague approval or even outright enthusiasm for the concept of minimal government and freedom of rights for individuals.

Development of the Flag

The Gadsden flag was created by Christopher Gadsden who was an American statesman and Brigadier General in the Continental Army. Other Independence-era symbols came out around the same time as Gadsden’s logo and slogan, but none has stood the test of time like this one!

Currently, there are several variations of this flag but the message remains the same. Following are some of the minor changes that may be found for the Gadsden flag.

  • The typeface can either be serif or sans-serif.
  • The word “Don’t” may be written with or without the apostrophe.
  • The earliest versions of the flag show that the rattlesnake is facing to the left. However, some versions today show that the snake is facing the right.
  • Most representations of the flag dating from 1887 to 1917 show a completely yellow background where the snake is resting. A recent addition, however, is the green grass beneath the snake.
  • Some parts of the United States today have declared the flag unsavory with some uncomforted reports about arrests on people who have the flag on display. Fair recently, the city of New Rochelle, New York have actually removed the flag from their military armory. The reasoning was that the flag is often used by the tea party movement.

Speaking of Don’t Tread on Me!

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Uses of the Flag

Upon development,

the flag was used by various groups within America. The Continental Marines is one of the most popular groups that used this flag, unfurling it side by side with the Moultrie flag. The United States Navy also utilized an earlier version of the flag.

The first use of this flag, however, was by Commodore Esek Hopkins. He was the first Commander in Chief for the New Continental Fleet. His ships sailed for the first time in the year 1776 on the month of February. It was then shown by Colonel Christopher Gadsden to the Continental Congress.

Today, the flag is being used by the Tea Party Movement (as previously mentioned) – which is why the symbol is currently getting some bad reputation. Still, the rattlesnake is still a powerful image and is actually being used by Nike in support of the US national soccer team

for the males. Even the band Metallica has recorded a song entitled “Don’t Tread on Me.”

In spite of its wide variety of uses and meanings, it’s disheartening to see that even those who collect all types of flags have mostly shied away from flying it (as most collectors like to fly some of their flags on occasion) because it can reflect an ideology or political viewpoint that may offend some!

The crazy thing is that many who are intimidated from displaying the flag, don’t even know who they are offending or why it’s offensive (since it originally spoke of freedom from British domination)!  Yes, it’s gotten that bad!

Why Is This Important?

The “Don’t Tread on Me” flag is a very important representation of American history. Nowadays, the United States is proud of its freedom – sometimes even stating that it is the freest country in the world.

The Gadsden flag, however, represents the time when America is in the process of fighting for its freedom. Therefore, it is a wonderful symbol of the country’s strength and willpower- leading it to become the world leader it is today. Young Americans will do well to know the impact and underlying meaning of this flag to their history.

If you’re fascinated, or even just a tad bit curious, check out some excellent collector’s items for both flag enthusiasts and freedom proponents HERE!

 

Comments

  1. Damn Yankees also put out a song called “Don’t Tread on Me” in 1992.
    Like this version much better than Metallica’s.

  2. Kristiana Jourgensen. Utopia idea is unrealistic & naive. You’re an idiot for someone who thinks she knows so much.

  3. I am so proud of our founding fathers standing up against tyrannical England, but not the way we treated American Indians later.

  4. As long as you don’t screw with me, I won’t screw with you. Leave me be and I will leave you be. If I’m really that terrible, then fight me coward. But right now, I have no quarrel with you so shut it and leave me in peace.

  5. Anissa, the money quote is misstated. It is “for the love of money” There is nothing wrong with money or having money just don’t love it above all else.

  6. Dear Kristina, I am a Republican and proud of it.
    I am not in favor of the public money going to big business, I therefore am behind the idea that public monies should go directly to the ones who do need it, if they need help then help them, if they need small capital to grow their mom and pop shop then so be it and that means for anyone without regard to race, creed or religion.
    I however am also a prepper and I read a lot about how the government is failing it’s people and country.
    This government is doomed to fail, it may not happen in my time or my children’s time but they will be ready if it does and it’s for this very reason I fly the Gadsden Flag and tell anyone who asks about its history and what it truly stands for is our freedoms, not for the freedom’s that our government gives but rather the laws of our dear saviour Jesus Christ who God gave to take our sins and physically die for so we may get a chance so that he was not put on that cross in vain.
    I could go on but I wanted to say to you and anyone who would read my statements that I believe that we as a people are generally good at heart but let our minds go sour with the ones who made them that way, yep our government the ones we hired to basically screw us over, but alas even some of those are good.
    I thank you for your time.

  7. The only way to get rid of the greed and hatred is by being born again.
    Take off the fallen nature of man and put on the new man Jesus Christ.

    Remember, humans comming together can’t bring about peace and solve the problems in their own power…remember the tower of Babel. Also the New Testament says “Our righteousness is as filthy rags:.

    Only by confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believing God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”

    Remember again new Testament many In that day will call out Lord Lord didn’t we prophesy in your name ? But Jesus says, depart you you woke of iniquity. I never knew you.”

    There should not be mega churches. We should have people really willing to serve Jesus. Jesus usually preached on the road, on a small hill, on the beach. Jesus wouldn’t let people starve while living in a mansion or wearing luxurious robes with all kinds of jewelry. In fact Jesus says if you are out and about and someone asks for your cloak, give him your coat ALSO.
    Have a good day

    1. Does this have anything to do with the flag and don’t tread on me idea? No, but I happen to agree with Debra so I’ll let it go.
      J.

  8. Like your comment. Liked the history of the flag…very interesting. That is one of the major problems with Millinams…no history of America being taught in schools anymore. Americans taking so much for granted. Totally support mandatory service for youth in America to serve 2 years in foreign countries to see how blessed Americans are.

  9. I wish this highly “educated” country full of dum asses could read and understand what you have written here …! You need to run for President !!!

  10. Kristiana–In other words you believe in a Utopia….. Will never happen; so you divise a system that will do the most good for the most people. Capitalism has done more good for more people that any other system throughout the history of mankind. Your Utopia is a pipe dream. Get real. Capitalism isn’t perfect, but nothing is.

  11. Kristiana Jourgensen, I couldn’t agree with you more. I certainly don’t know as much as you do. However, I choose not to vote. I never have, never will. Politics to me equals Same shit, Different Shovels/Different Puppets, Same Agenda. It seems to me everything narrows down to the ROOT OF ALL EVIL, MONEY!!! GREED and POWER. It sickens me how cruel people are to one another. Looking out for themselves more often than not. So greedy, gluttons, liars, etc. We’re fkn fools. Like we are practicing the seven deadly sins daily instead of the Ten Commandments!!! I seriously Pray for His Kingdom to Come and His Will to Be Done Already in a World so full of fkn hate and despair. Honestly I see the World as a Nightmarish Shitstorm and I’m kinda hoping for a REVELATION TRUTHFULLY!!!✌❤

  12. How u know that isnt 999, actully looks more like a 9 2 2 to me

  13. DONT TREAD ON ME is a momentous movement that’s coming back. America will now strike if taken advantage of. Fed-up of hand outs in lieu of a hand up .

  14. This flag is the background on my car’s license plate. While I was at a social event someone tried to paint me into a corner and embarrass me in front of others by asking me if I was a member of the Tea Party after she had seen the plate. I said I wasn’t aware that the TP used it (I’m not a member of it either). I said I have the plate because I want to warn others not to tread on my rights as a US citizen and to encourage US citizens to do the same. Also I like tapping into the history of the flag. Isn’t it wonderful how some people don’t bother to research something they don’t know about and assume instead that you are their enemy because they are ignorant and uneducated!

  15. Boots on the ground and readying for whats to come the price of freedom is eternal vigilance

    1. Boots on the ground, and our own patriots’ blood flowing even for bogus wars and lies?

  16. Hello all in light of the ominous threats to this nation in place I would think that this should unite all people against the many threats against this country as the following: sleeper cells in place and now the open borders that are seeping in (the refugees) which are clearly a Trojan horse ready to strike this country. “Don’t tread on Me” has a very poignant and authentic sound to it. We the people are being tread upon and we should place the proper meaning to this flag. Boots to the ground and fight the enemy from within and out.

  17. So, because the tea party is using it, it’s gaining a bad reputation? It couldn’t be more horrible if the liberalist and democrats were using it.

    1. Yes, because you people are so much quicker to resort to insults and ad hominem attacks than we are. We “liberalists” (whatever that means) prefer that all people are allowed to live in freedom rather than just the anointed few that your “conservativist” views tend to espouse.

      (sorry if I used too many complex words in there)

    2. Funny how you just resorted to an insult at the end there. Totally negating your entire unsolicited, and now hypocritical, retort. You just couldn’t resist, huh?

    3. “Whatever that means” wow to proclaim “us” as something you lack in true understanding shows the ignorance that you are a part of and clearly attempting to breed with your hate. Hillary for Prison!

    4. Exactly. The TP has appropriated the Gadsen flag to divide Americans, to distort our collective strength, and not to unite as one people. The TP has promoted the Gadsen flag as a directive to fracture U.S. society into ethnic, racial, and all groups of otherness that don’t serve whiteness. You bet that’s what it does.

    5. You should know Tea stands for taxed enough already. The whole divide, fracture,racial thing you just spewed is complete nonsense. I’m a Tea guy and a libertarian. Basically, you do your thing, I’ll do my thing, and the laws should apply the same to all of us. And giving $800 million to some bundlers who claim they are a green company when in fact they don’t do anything but steal taxpayers money is not OK. And making welfare system that makes you better off staying on it then working is not OK. Or having a system that uses racial quotas rather than merit for everything from education admissions to choosing our firefighters is not OK.

  18. Dang dude, that was a great reply! good one.I’m glad I took that shot in the dark asking you.Your word’s was on the spot aim to my believe about God and his righteousness and religions arrogant defiance to the bible and God’s instructions in it…even in blaten mocking. It so angers me sometimes, that they,in God’s name, but for their gain, leads away good people from God. I’m beginning to reason to your level. I’m beginning to hate it. AND Ya, lol, there seems to be a fixation for people looking for demons under every rock. I was reading on how ridiculous about the post of 666 being on a flag. I read your reply to him, I laughed so hard I had to read it to everyone in the room.

    1. ehhhh I’m not sold on that being intentional. I think it’s more probable that you’re making something out of nothing.

    2. some people look for demons under every rock

    3. speaking of demons… al ,you hate religion. I can sorta concur, tho do you hate God ? just curious. cause I live for Him tho not religions

    4. Do I hate God-I hope not if that were true then I’ve been working for the wrong team. I’ve been a proclaimer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for over 23+ years.

      I’m just not a fan of man-made doctrine-I rather rely on what we have in the infallible Word of our most gracious God!

      I just think it’s interesting how many of us never tire from looking for gremlins rather than using that energy sharing the life saving message of the Messiah.

      I’m happy to hear you live for Him-glad we belong to the same team-all Glory and Honor to HIM.

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