Don’t Tread on Me – What It Means Today

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 the 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!

This handy tool brings gives new meaning to the term “don’t tread on me”.  It’s one of the most unique items we’ve seen yet.  Oh, and did I mention it’s FREE?

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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!



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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!!!✌❤

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

  6. I think everyone would agree that the last month has ushered
    in a very angry political energy that many people seem to be expressing
    openly. As a massage therapist this has
    been most noticeable, especially when I have clients coming in and using their
    $100 an hour session, (that is for the purpose of relaxing and calming the mind
    and body for health) to spout off about everything that is pissing them off
    politically, all while making the arrogant assumption that I am definitely “on their

    First of all, if you study any kind of history you know that
    the divide and conquer tactic has been used by the powerful and elite for many
    centuries to control the masses. If you
    can keep people fighting amongst each other they won’t notice the bigger picture. Just like a great magician’s slide of hand,
    while you are looking one way they can create any illusion they wish due to
    your distraction. I could go into every
    detail of what was said to me in my massage session yesterday by one of my
    clients so easily and foolishly duped by this divide and conquer tactic like so
    many Americans right now. I could break
    down every point and denounce it with an intelligent counterpoint, but that
    would suck me into the same tactic I am speaking out against so here goes.

    How about we start a new party called the Humanitarians: The
    Party of Being a Decent Fucking Human Being.
    How about that, because I am so sick of hearing people debate about what
    they think is fact based on whatever media channel they buy into that is also
    laden with divide and conquer propaganda. Here is what I know about our world
    and what needs to be done. This writing
    is dedicated to those of us who have evolved past being some strange breed of self-serving,
    egotistical modern ape whose only care is to fill our bank accounts, be
    complacently comfortable and sit back in your convenient cushy worlds using
    your iPhone and tablets to criticize the rest of the world. Let’s go back to a tried and true chart of
    human development, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

    If you read about this pyramid in more depth, it has been
    theorized that the highest form of human development is when you get to the
    point of wanting to help others. I would
    say most of the people we admire throughout history are because they reached
    this level. Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Mother
    Teresa, John Lennon, Martin Luther King,
    Oprah, whoever you want to reference in whatever era, these people were
    regarded as great souls because they gave a fuck about something other than
    being rich and only serving themselves.

    So in a retarded misshapen, archaic nutshell here is the
    political system I see around me to the best of my understanding. Republicans don’t like the government to run
    everything and don’t believe in social assistance programs or spending tax
    money on handouts to people. The
    democrats want the government’s hands in everything and do believe in social
    assistance programs etc. “Socialist” a
    word rife with unfounded paranoia and fear from the past connotations of 1930’s
    Marxism and unchecked tyranny is a concept so unclearly defined at this point
    when used in 2016 nobody even stops to think what it really would mean in this
    era. Because the fact is both
    republicans and democrats have been participating in a socialist means of
    running their parties for a long time. The
    other fact is that the root of the word “social” or to be social in and of
    itself is not a bad word.

    Republicans don’t want tax money spent on welfare or to see
    people go to college for free or get free healthcare. They will argue with you about unfair that is
    and that it is ruining our country and is a threat to capitalism. I don’t affiliate myself with any party and I
    don’t want to see tax money go to violent wars that are undefined in mission
    and purpose or any war for that matter, corporate subsidies or tax breaks for
    mega churches that are a modern day legal money laundering operation, which Republicans
    seem to have no qualms about any of our taxes used for these things. Their don’t tread on me attitude is more of a
    “convenient theories for you” outlook for when it justifies their own needs it
    is fine to use public tax dollars for their agendas but not fine to use those
    same public tax dollars for things that would actually help fellow humans. Which brings me to my next point; You cannot
    logically call yourself a Christian and a republican, because being a
    republican goes against everything taught in the bible and yet modern
    republicans act like the most bible beating self-righteous group of them all
    but don’t’ follow any of the principles taught by Jesus, like caring more about
    your fellow man than your greed.

    Republicans Why Are you Not Then Outrage by Corporate

    Oh that’s right because most of it is going to you. When did defending profits become more of a priority
    to you people than caring about your fellow countrymen and women? Is your golden egg concept of capitalism so
    fragile and precious that it should be held in higher regard than human well-being? If you are so worried about protecting
    capitalism and a free market where is your outrage for corporate
    subsidies? You don’t like people getting
    handouts and not earning things themselves?
    Isn’t capitalism supposed to be a system where if you fuck your business
    up then oh well tough luck, but it isn’t when we spent more money subsidizing
    failed businesses than we ever have helping American citizens!

    “According to Good Jobs First, there are 514 economic
    development programs in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than
    245,000 awards have been granted under those programs. I ask again, where is
    the outrage? The system is antithetical to the idea of free markets. A quarter
    of a million times, state governments decided what is best for producers and
    consumers. That should make us cringe. First, the government is inefficient at
    providing public goods, and it is terrible at manipulating the markets for
    private goods. But more importantly, those 514 economic development programs
    are almost all the result of insidious cronyism. Narrow business interests
    manipulate government policymakers, and those interests prosper to the
    detriment of everyone else. Free markets be damned.”

    How is this not already socialist? How is this capitalism? Who is really getting the handout here?

    Excerpt taken from the following article.

    The fact is we already are a socialist country more than we
    are both political party and I don’t mind the word socialism. This word does not stupidly and instantly
    threaten me like most people. I like
    being social and I like helping others.
    I do mind how socialism is carried out and for what purpose. This country spends a fuck ton of public tax
    money on a lot of shit and it always will.
    The money is mismanaged out the ass most of the time, but it is mismanaged
    on both sides no matter what political party you are talking about, it is mismanaged
    because of a human problem not a party problem and that is greed and spiritual
    naivety, but you know what? I would rather pay what I already do or even higher
    up to %30 of my money in taxes to feed, clothe, house, educate and provide health
    care for every single American and human being on this planet (in a snide jab I
    shall call this “no human being left behind”) than to watch it go to rich
    corporate cock suckers, used to kill and bomb the shit out of already
    impoverished countries and to give breaks to self-righteous slugs who call their
    selves Christians and yet use the system to ensure that their tithings go towards
    thousand dollar sound systems for their “church” and a slot with the Jones’s
    and maybe a politician or too in their Mafioso hierarchy of collecting pawns in
    their pocket for late use in case they need a law or two overlooked. This doesn’t make me a democrat, republican
    or socialist, it makes me a Humanitarian: Part of the League of Being a Decent
    Human Being. Our problems are human
    problems not problems attached to any one political party, so you people can keep
    buying into the divide and conquer bullshit and keep perpetuating the exact
    distraction that will keep you from your own enlightenment or you can wake up
    and realize the new revolution is internal.
    If every single human on this planet would but give up their greed and
    ego and evolve to that highest point on Maslow’s hierarchy of need so f wanting
    to help others our problems will solve themselves. This is why the new revolution is internal,
    so everyone can just shut the fuck up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. 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 .

  8. 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!

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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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