Don’t Tread on Me – The Gadsden Flag and it’s Meaning

Peter Stec
April 17, 2021

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.

First Things First!  Where Did it Come From?

You can do an online search and find lots of details about the phrase “don’t tread on me” and how it’s connected to the Gadsden Flag and Benjamin Franklin, etc.  Not all the stories or timelines are the same.  Here’s a good overview to give you a really good idea of it’s general history from inception to present day.

The short answer to “where did it come from” is – The War of Independence in the United States (also known as the Revolutionary War) in the 1770’s.  The United States was not actually the United States at all at that time.  It was known as the “American Colonies” ruled by the world’s superpower at the time – Great Britain.  

As the story goes, during late 1775 when the rebellion against the British rule of the colonies was already well underway, the American army (known as the Continental Army) was waiting in Cambridge, Massachusetts under orders from their General George Washington.  At the same time the British were occupying Boston.  The Continental Army was not well-equipped and disease and other hardships were taking their toll on the troops.  This was around the time of the famous battle of Bunker Hill where George Washington’s troops were so low on gun powder that they were ordered not to fire until they saw the “whites of their eyes” because this would mean their enemy was in close range which would increase the odds of hitting their target.

Around that time, an American merchant ship returned to Philadelphia from England with information regarding several British supply ships that were soon to sail for America laden with ammunition and military supplies.  In order to take advantage of a strategic opportunity to capture those supplies and gain an advantage against the British troops, the Continental Congress (U.S. Government at the time) devised a plan to intercept the ships.  The key element in that plan was to create a navy (The Continental Navy).  It was a fledgling navy with just 7 ships, but it was a start.

As part of the grand plan to create and deploy this Navy, Congress authorized the assembly of five companies of Marines.  As it happened, a number of the Marines that enlisted shortly after that were carrying yellow drums bearing the image of a rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike, and bearing the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Gadsden Flag
Though not portrayed in this painting, the Gadsden Flag was flown on Commodore Hopkins’ flagship The Alfred

So Where Did the Name “Gadsden” Come from and how is it Associated with “Don’t Tread on Me”?

Christoper Gadsden was an American “patriot” or “rebel” depending on which side you were on!  He was a merchant (and yes, like Benjamin Franklin, a slave-owner in South Carolina), a soldier and a politician.  He was an American statesman and Brigadier General in the Continental Army.  At this point in history, Gadsden was a delegate to Congress and was also a member of the Marine Committee.  In addition, he was the commander of the First South Carolina Regiment of the Continental Army.

The Gadsden flag was created by Christopher Gadsden and while other Independence-era symbols came out around the same time as Gadsden’s logo and slogan, none has stood the test of time like this one!   He presented a copy of this flag to his state legislature in Charleston, S.C. and its popularity soon soared!

In 1775 before the departure of the first mission of the American Navy, a copy of the Gadsden flag was given to the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy Commodore Esek Hopkins.  He used it on the mainmast of his ship (the Alfred) as a unique personal standard.

What Does It Mean?

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.  He wanted to establish the rattlesnake as a “mascot” for American colonies because of the qualities it represents.  A quote from Franklin explains:

“She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage.”…”but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal:—Conscious of this, she never wounds til she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her.—Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?”

Benjamin Franklin

Franklin went on to outline to his friend Christopher Gadsden, the qualities of the rattlesnake that he admired as it related to the American struggle for independence:

  • The Rattlesnake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America
  • The rattlesnake also has sharp eyes, and “may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.
  • She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage
  • The rattle = the number of the Colonies united in America

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.

join or die

The Gadsden Flag was intentionally designed not to convey a racist message, but a patriotic one.

HOWEVER, It appears as though the meaning of the flag has changed (and is changing) from a historic symbol of patriotism (and more recently a general expression of personal freedom and God-given individual rights) to something much more insidious and dishonorable.

While many today use the dont tread on me flag as both a tribute to American resilience AND an expression of their own desire to remain free and liberated (much like many people display the Stars and Stripes for the same reason), things started to change in the early 2000’s.  Somehow, the Gadsden Flag became associated with extremism in the “conservative” ranks like various libertarian causes, gun-rights advocates and far-right political groups.   In a word, it was politicized!

Then, to add to the confusion and misrepresentation of the flag, some supporters of some of these groups were accused of being racist.  The critics of those supporters then decided to use the flag itself as a symbol of bigotry and racism.

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 because in his own words he stated;

“Christopher Gadsden was a slave trader and owner of slaves”

…and so that means his flag (whatever it was meant to mean) is now racist.  We often forget that many “slave owners” did not fit the profile of what we’re told is accurate history in the movies.  Benjamin Franklin himself was a slave owner who treated his servants as family and gave them grace, mercy and opportunity.

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!

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.

join or die

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

Currently, there are several variations of this flag but the message remains the same. The 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.
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Historical Summary and Use

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.

As mentioned earlier, the first use of this flag 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 men’s soccer team. Even the band Metallica has recorded a song entitled “Don’t Tread on Me

dont 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 it Offensive?

In all my research, I still can’t figure out why many otherwise seemingly rational left-leaning liberal or “progressive” citizens of the USA persecute those who fly this flag.  We understand that there have been white supremacist groups who have used the flag as part of their own symbolism, but most rational people can understand that just because a fringe group adopts a national symbol, that is no reason to persecute those who display the symbol (since most who display the symbol probably display it as a symbol portraying its original meaning). 

Can you imagine if every Conservative Republican decided to persecute anyone who displays a photo of a rainbow because it has been adopted by the LGBTQ community?  The rainbow was originally a symbol of a promise given to us by God to never again destroy the earth with a flood.  The symbol has been taken by the gay community to symbolize their lifestyle and agenda which has nothing to do with the original symbolism of the rainbow.  I don’t see widespread denunciations of rainbows in this world by those who oppose the LGBTQ lifestyle!  Can you please return the favor?

My Gadsden Soapbox

In the case of the Gadsden flag, the symbolism is that of American independence and pride, telling England (and any other would-be America-haters) to “lay off – we bite if you screw with our freedom!”  I am not a racist and I appreciate that symbolism.  If you are a Democrat, appreciate a “women’s right to choose”, whole-heartedly celebrate same-sex marriage, really like Hilary Clinton, contemplated moving to Canada when Trump was elected, or otherwise appreciate a left-wing, liberal, progressive social and political agenda, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE AT KNIFEUP!  However, please don’t go off on a tantrum about how everyone who loves America and displays the Gadsden flag as a symbol of our great country is a Trump-loving, woman-hating, immigrant-hating, Nazi-loving, Republican racist.  It’s simply not true and I sincerely believe you know that in your heart.  

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!

 

About The Author
Hey Knife Up gang! I'm Pete, and I'm just another man like you in a small rural town who loves the outdoors as much as the other million internet users that cruise sites like KnifeUp.com every day. The difference is that I like to share what I know and research what I don't totally know so that YOU can have all the info you need to feel confident and prepared for all things outdoors-related! And, for those who care, I have 42 years of wilderness canoeing and bushcraft experience in Northern Ontario and spend most of my Summers covered in mosquitos and fish slime, but hey, it's a lifestyle choice, eh?

139 comments on “Don’t Tread on Me – The Gadsden Flag and it’s Meaning”

    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. Besides, it would be insane to hate god. A sane person doesn’t hate something that doesn’t exist.

    3. No middle 6 tail, therefore I call B.S. the head as the tail on the first 6 is a stretch and the middle coil has NO tail so it would be a 0 and the last coil is the only 6 that can be identified easily.

  1. 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.

  2. 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. 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?

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

    3. Hearing to Progressive Democrats blame everyone else for the malicious acts they perpetrate is really getting boring. What evil did the Tea Party commit? They, as a rule, quietly protested abuses by the federal government in an orderly and perfectly legal manner. They broke no laws, they destroyed no property, they blocked no roads and even cleaned up before they went home. As it has no formal structure and is truly “grass root” it’s agenda is somewhat varied. What’s not included are all the hot button issues The Left used to separate us. Racism and the other bigotries favored by the Left are not a part of any Tea Party agenda. Personal hatred is absent in all forms. There in one sure bet these days. Whatever ugliness The Left is blaming someone else for, they themselves are guilty of. One primary objective of the Democratic Party is the separation of various factions and demographics within the US. They want us at each other’s throats. That’s how they extend and continue their power and control. Power and control is the only thing they covet. The Gadsden flag was adopted because the screwed up tax law in this country is a common complaint between all Tea Party groups. Family values and government corruption are some others. If there were ever any of the acts The Left complains about at any Tea Party gathering it was very isolated and infrequent and the result of an outsider’s act. I challenge any Leftist too give proof of their accusations.
      The Gadsden Flag has significant import in our national heritage. Today it serves the same purpose representing the same ideals. It continues in use by elements of our military and yes by the Tea Party and other patriots.

    4. No, but the right would certainly think so if they were. The Tea Party should come up with their own flag as this flag represents all Americans. the Tea Party certainly does not.

  3. 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 .

  4. Well I was taught that a symbol of freedom was somthing to be proud of to have in our midst on this unforgiving world planit but we all must realize that we r more civilized in our society. Than our counter parts on the other areas of the globe so don’t tread on me I believe in that saying or sentence. The words have grit and a powerfull mssge

  5. Kristiana Jourgensen, did you pass out after that rant?

    How about this? Each state can attempt to do whatever social good it wants, giving the residents of the State just a little bit more local control over the eventual corruption and misuse of those funds (Government always corrupts). Remember, it won’t always go your way.

    That sounds a lot better than the one-size-fits-all, distant control of a VERY powerful and supremely corrupt Federal government, which really doesn’t have the Constitutional authority to do much of what it does today, anyhow.

    Until that happens, we all sit in the foul, filthy pool.of crap the Federal Government creates for us.

    Decentralize it.

  6. I read it all. I agree with every word. That, combined with the massage therapy–are you single? 😀 (please don’t be a feminazi, please don’t be a feminazi; it was just a harmless joke.)

    Thanks for speaking your mind. Hopefully it reaches someone that isn’t already on your side, yeah?

  7. I am an Independent. I see a heck of a lot of your opinion and disgust of Republicans, I’m still waiting for your breakdown of Democrats??? Anything???

  8. Bravo, kudos, amen, and everything good in response to your comment!! Of course, I was already on your side before I read it, but it”s always nice to read an articulate response from someone with “our” point of view.

  9. Okay listen up! Bottom Line A quote from George Washington. ” I would rather die on my feet than to live on my knee.” Hance , this is what the flag means to mr.

  10. Why can’t people just take the meaning of the flag the way it was intended? Why does there have to be a great debate over the meaning? It is what it is . It has nothing to do with religion or politics. I’m having it tattooed on my arm,I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks or how it’s interpreted .I know the true meaning.

  11. ???? ????ill fly my flag as long as this country still flys the red whit and blue. till then. may Jesus have mercy on this country

  12. Miss Jourgensen,

    I do applaud your humanitarian cause, but as a long term Army veteran, I know things about this world that you really don’t want to. I really hate our two party system, but if vigilance is sacrificed on the global scale, there will always be an organization or country ready to take our country which allows your free condemnation without making an example of you and your family. Yes this does still happen.

    I claim to be a Christian and also without a church. I would love to see true global humanitarianism but it will not happen until this society is wiped off the face of the earth and replaced by one God installs to continue the human race.

    Our political system is a very powerful perversion of what it was suppose to be. One without control of a monarchy and the Don’t Tread on Me flag was created to symbolize this. Either we are vigilant or we will be right back where we started under who knows who’s control.

    I really do applaud you wholesomeness and will tell you their will always be soldiers who are willing to fight to ensure your freedom to speak your mind.

  13. I find it very disturbing when people think the solution to violence is more violence. I don’t understand the fixation on hating anyone that wasn’t born in this country. America’s foundation was built by all immigrants and the sons and daughters of immigrants. Why is it that we stole this nation through violence, made some imaginary lines on a map and decided that everyone on the outside of the line is flawed? We can only build a truly great nation if we all stop focusing on our differences and embrace the variety humans offer.
    “Don’t tread on me” is a childish mentality, threats and fear never accomplish anything substantial.

  14. So you like to threaten people? The message don’t tread on me send is this…..if you do something that I feel threatens my preferred lifestyle I’m going to react with violence. Awesome!!! Let me know how intimidation works out for you. The message is loud and clear, historically and presently

  15. Don’t Tread On Me,
    today means to not take away our freedom. (We must stand up to wrong and never let the unclean things in the world touch us)
    God gave us our freedom and when we aren’t righteous that freedom is taken away.
    The media and the adversary is so powerful and brainwashing. Today good is evil and evil is good. (2 Nephi 15:20)

    Many millenials today just want to take the easy path and say there is no sin. If there is no sin, there are no consiqences and there is no right and wrong. If you take a quick look back at history, you will see where people go that choose the easier wrong rather then the harder right and trust me, you do not want to go to that dark place of misery.

    It really hurts mean to see where are Country is heading and especially where it is now.
    I’m a Constitutionalist and a Republican.
    My dad is a CEO and he works his A off and makes so much sacrifices to get what we have.
    He does not steal money from people, He works for it so its his! It is so sick how much money the government takes (practical steals) from him. Somewhere around 50% of his hard word, blood sweet and tears get taken away! People like my dad are true Americans. Entrepreneurs are heros and they create jobs for people. Many people don’t realize how hard it is to run a business. 96% of businesses fail after their 10th year.

  16. We must vote. Not voting is like just handing American to the Devil himself. We at least try. Faith without works is dead. You will drop dead and forget. Yes I believe that the systems messed up and the people in it, but we must get and keep people like that out. It’s very frustrating and SUCKS.

    This years election is jacked up but I know that we should just sit there and do nothing.
    We need to give our vote to the person that we reach more agreements with, the person that our beliefs are closest too.
    Both candidates this year are not the best people, but my vote goes to Trump. He is not perfect nor is any man or woman. Trump has a lot more pros than Hillary. Hillary is very deciving and knows how to hide her dark side. She and her husband have done so much evil far beyond Trump has. The difference is that Trump is very blunt and he will admit when his done something wrong.

  17. 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.

  18. Some parts of the United States today have declared the flag unsavory with some [uncomforted] reports about arrests

    Should be: [unconfirmed]

    /end edit 🙂

  19. Well said. It is time we start taking back emblems that are adopted, then desecrated by groups set on destroying our freedoms. The TEA party does not represent you or me and that symbol belongs to US. I’d like to see everyone start flying this flag with a notation that says “this flag belongs to those who love freedom”…

  20. Socialism does more good for its people than capitalism. Capitalism leaves the door open for exploitation of workers, and tax evasion. Socialism evens out the playing field of Commerce and provides more equality. Capitalism is basically dog eat dog business, and corporate darwinism. It hurts us more than helps us.

  21. 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.

    1. Speaking as a public school teacher, for 22 years, you are wrong. History is being taught in schools. When was the last time you sat in a classroom?

  22. Go to the source, if you say you(anyone) are saying you ate a Christian.
    Luke : 10:18-20
    (18)” And He ( Jesus) said unto them, “I beheld satan as lightening fall from heaven.
    (19) “BEHOLD, I GIVE YOU THE POWER TO TREAD UPON SERPENTS AND SCORPIONS , and over all the power of the enemy :and nothing shall any means hurt you”
    (20) “Not withstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

  23. 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. I agree wholeheartedly. Can you imagine what this world would be like if everyone practiced The Golden Rule? I’m ready for the Rapture of God’s church (that’s US), and I hope everyone else that needs to cries out to God for salvation, so we can all live happily ever after in heaven! God bless you, sister.

  24. 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.

  25. Utopia will come when we are taken by our heavenly Father to live in eternity with him. And he will wipe every year from there eyes. Sin and suffering will be no more. Amen

  26. If people don’t believe in a symbol of our fight for freedom then you might as well deny the national Anthem. …yeah some people do look for demons under rocks…even our Lord Jesus Christ fought for our freedom and died for us …people quit splitting hairs all is positive..if you walk out of a room and turn the light off then yes it will get dark..keep the light on …or join the rest of the negative people who try to change our history in this country!!!!

  27. Hey Christina you may be a massage therapist, don’t give up your day job. Socialism is not too far from communism. I don’t see you packing your bags and moving to Russia or China. Give your words some thought before declaring that socialism doesn’t bother you. I’m a US armed forces veteran . I took an oath to uphold and protect the constitution against domestic and foreign enemies. Yes I’m an oath keeper, a III%’er and anti socialists . I was never relieved of my duty when I was separated from the armed forces. With that said Don’t Tread On Me ????????????????????????????

  28. The don’t tread on me flag is the flag on the front of every US naval vessel. Just think about that. It is a definitive point, that the American Naval force has chosen that flag to represent it’s country. People are in those Ships. People that go into hostile territory not knowing when they may be killed by one of the many ships or countries passed by. It is not something fictional posted in the world of Internet blogining. It is sailed for display to say that the USA is alive and breathing, please don’t step upon it or its people, because who ever does will have forced their own certain death. It say that whoever wants to strike, will be poisoned so to speak, and will cause their own pain forced by their own hand.

  29. Wow, i usually don’t read long replies, but i got hooked on your well thought and well written piece. Thank you. I really enjoyed your insights and I agree with your outlook.

  30. I think Kristiana has been smoking something. Too many people today are content to being a dependent on government handouts and believe they are a victim. They have no concept of personal responsibility. I have my own business and wish I could find one of those corporate subsidies you refered to. But I can show you some people that will not work to earn a paycheck because welfare subsidies is a way of life. I believe in helping those who can’t help themselves. I believe in a hand up, not a hand out. And I believe a country that spends trillions on entitlements and borrows 40% of every dollar it spends, cannot last.

  31. No it is not three 6s on their side. Only people who are against the flag and are looking for reasons to bash the flag would say that

  32. No it is not three 6s on their side. Only people who are against the flag and are looking for reasons to bash the flag would say that. So don’t say stuff to bash an important part of history. Thanks for your input.

  33. It sound s as if u really believe that people have wars cuz there’s nothing better to do. U live in a fake world.

  34. You people were so brainwashed into believing Trump was bad that you didn’t even realize why so many in WA hate him. They are crooked! This was the first time I was excited about voting. I voted for Obama because i got a bad feeling about mccaine…then i soon realized that maybe McCain would have been better. Just because Obama ignored any real issue. I was tired of him preaching about discrimination over and over…TRYING TO KEEP IT ALIVE! That was his agenda…trying to make sure he racked up votes from the liberals for the next election, instead of working out the real problems in this country.

  35. Dear, Kristina Jourgensen that rant that you took time out of your life to write back in march, 2016. Is spot on. The passion and pain in your articulation is present and if somehow someway you read this know that although we might be a minority there are others in this world the US and all over that feel the same way, I won’t go on and on but I will cut myself short and say it hurts my heart to no end to see In 2017 we’re at times just as barbaric and cold as the days of the cave man. I suppose the difference now is in strategy, execution and our technical age of deception. When I travel I’m reminded how amazing this world could truly be because its so beautiful and yet man continues to seek to destroy. I can go on and on but your post was far too powerful not to comment so again if your eyes or any eyes for that matter come across this know that no one or at lease myself is not living in La la land where everything is perfect you have to work and pick yourself up but dispite religious affiliation ethnic background or even socio-economic status yes there are some awful humans in this world but we should have collectively reached a point of wanting to just live a healthy fruitful life w/o the requirement of someone else in agony and suffering. There is a better way. Think of your life and how a bulk of it requires you asking yourself is this person trying to get one over on me. Ask yourself how much energy is required in knowing someone is always trying to remove money out of your pocket not for goods and services but to fund their schemes. If you are of the few that are never affected then bravo however for most this is not the case. This is not mans max potential I refuse to believe that. It’s 2017 we have the internet you can video chat with loved ones you can book flights across the world, you can archive your entire life if you wanted to I can go on and on and yet corporations and humans with immense levels of power wealth and influence seek destruction and greed , seek control and angst amongst the masses seek to confuse and misdirect, none of this makes sense to me. But then again what do I know. I just wish everyone could be happy without people getting hurt or dying . There has to be a better way towards love and understanding for all. Rant done

  36. I aagree with your post an Capitalism has done good in the world an lots of bad people have been murdered for just pure profit while so many claim the be God loving Christian’s turn a blind eye to this in the name of greed pure greed.

    Yes some of the post border on a utopia why in the world if we are decent people should we not all be working together to make our country a better place for our kids an grand kids?

    A Wall Street controlled country has destroyed the middle class in the US an we will never be great again without a strong middle class, thats what made us a great country in the post WW2 era, pretty easy to see when we were at our strongest!

  37. It’s like the woman said the revolution is internal. Small battles every day, personal and public. Slowly turning the hearts of people to goodness, taking us all away from our unsavory nature.

    If we see an injustice be a voice against it, even better counteract it. If we hear a racist remark, tell the person how offensive it is.

    As Mackelmore says “Would Jesus invite Muhammad in?”

  38. Unfortunately most will probably choose their so-called “team”, than agree with even in part of what you said. People are so caught up in their side or applauding their “team” even if the rules are manipulated so their “team” can win. The problem with this idea is those that own the “team” is those that win. As the Baltimore Colts moved in the middle of the night to Cleveland it was the fans, who claimed that their “team” moved, that were hurt, not the owners who moved to benefit financially. Capitalism is great when people are not being exploited and everyone has the same access to get contracts and start businesses. Social programs are great when they help without crippling and money is not wasted. If the rules are applied the “game” would be better for all to play that participate. If you don’t vote you cannot effect the outcome of the “game” at all; therefore you are not even in the “arena”. It is not a utopian concept to get people to do what is right. We can even to agree to disagree, but work to do what’s best for whole by not electing unrepresentative representation, and not supporting business that destroy the American Economy by having an overseas labor force to the demise of the American Worker. We have to become Humans that are being, and stop acting as Humans sitting and not seeing?

  39. Jesus you people can take something so utterly simple and turn it into some convoluted and twisted it’s ridiculous! Jesus H. Christ!

  40. WOW! Kristiana, you seem to be pretty educated. Except for the “F” word you wrote masterfully. I have been to many “Tea Party meetings. It has been my experience through observation, that these people, both black and white, are God fearing Christians and True Patriotic Americans, and want what is best for all of our citizens.

  41. This historic banner should be flown and interpreted only as our founders intended it to be. No group, political or otherwise, should construe meaning or intent beyond that. Tea party, be damned; those crackers haven’t a clue when it comes to the founding of America and the sacrifices that were made to create a nation of free and self determining individuals.

  42. Cool stuff i feel more educated after moving from Illinois to panama city Florida about the roots of America.
    They sugar coat so much up there, its crazy. Im the baby of six born in 1962, my oldest brother went off to Vietnam and i remember a patch he had that said dont tread on me.
    Life hear feels like freedom, i love this town and my county, my father serve in WW2 he turned 18 years old in the pacific ocean.
    We all need to remember we have a president in the white house, stop bashing him you are embarrassing all Americans.
    If you don’t like are president vote against him next time.
    If you are wondering who i am, well i am ex union man born and raised union. The union sucks but with out it what would have.
    The union sets the standard for are wages, when your blue cooler like me, 32 years working on garbage trucks just so you know.

  43. Don’t tread on me is code for corrupt government in Washington DC stay out of my life and stay away from me.

  44. Its a very selfish self centered statement and everyone with it on their license plate I’ve noticed are the rudest pushest drivers!

  45. Thanks Thanks for throwing your vote over to the crazy right. Yes both sides are crooked however the right is insane and is trying to destroy us all. And thanks for letting everyone else carry the burden for you so that you can live free and happy. We will all do the work just sit back and relax and eat your Pesticide laden snacks while we do the heavy lifting. I’m sure you’re very proud of yourself for doing nothing.

  46. 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.

  47. To be completely honest, I didn’t read the whole comment… but what I did read, I must say that I completely agree with you. Have you ever heard of The Coffee Party? I’d they are still around, look into them. They are anti-partisan activists. You might like them.

  48. 99.5% of what you said, Amen.
    Peace and best of luck to you.
    We all need luck about now.
    Enough division.
    Weary Viet Nam Vet

  49. 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.

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

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

  52. I know a decent amount of history but I have to admit my ignorance when it.came to this design. When I bought a tshirt with this on it, I had no idea the other meanings behind it. I simply love snakes with Diamondbacks being one of my favs. I like the don’t mess with me or trample my rights part as well. I’m pleased to know it has a history I support and have embodied in the past. Screw the racists and the Tea Party! I’m wearing my rebel flag and snake shirt.

  53. I often wonder why political affiliation bother to bait people. Religious ideology also sneaks into a conversation and the emotional manipulation takes over rather than an open honest dialogue. The snake cut into pieces also has historical significance in modern times the enemies of freedom and uniting as a people is undermined by choosing sides.

    Standing up for one’s beliefs is easy in an online forum it is when our lives are on the line and the person next to us that the real test occurs.

    Historically many have died for what they believe in and fought sadly the rebel rousers have a pen or a keyboard and when the bodies are cold and those of us stacking the bodies of the enemy and mourning our lost loved ones those pulling the strings are urging us to give or admonish those willing to die.

    Survival is for the sheep those in sheep’s clothing are the ones that need to have a reckoning. The Iranian hackers and foreign polititical activists that do not live here and feed the people their ideals while living under a regime of terror with a grip on the throat of those that dare dream to one day live free.

    1. Umm, no, that’s not what toxic masculinity is. Toxic masculinity is what happens when traditionally “male” character traits are taken to an unacceptable extreme. For example, men initiating sexual/romantic encounters is traditonal, perfectly fine, male behavior. Grabbing women by the p____ is toxic.

  54. Your freedom isn’t free. It cost the blood of many soldiers, so don’t take it for granted. If it wasn’t for patriots dying you would be in slavery for the worse.

  55. … except for that whole “we rule over you because we started your pathetic little country” thing from the King of England! Maybe some would see that as the king of England “f#@!ing” with an entire country that would like to have fair representation for their taxes.

    I guess there are always two ways to see lots of issues like the breath of fresh air finally coming from the Alabama legislature dealing with the defining moral issue of our culture, etc. Some see that as a throwback to draconian times and the dark ages and hate for women, while others see it as the first sensible law coming from a heathen culture that values the “rights” of a woman over her own body, but not the rights that a baby has to LIFE itself! Crazy world huh?

    cheers,
    J.

  56. I use this flag as a libertarian. “Don’t tread on me” symbolizes for me how the government shouldn’t be stomping on our rights as Americans!

    1. Just saw this. I am a Republican myself, though more conservative. What rights have the current republican-led government stomped on? Can you be more specific? I have been hearing for a while now that our government is taking our rights away, but I have seen no evidence of that.

      I would actually appreciate some clarification.

      Thank you.

  57. Hi Ann;
    The only catch to your comment is that the only person I know (personally) who flies the Gadsden flag is ME. I also know that I am absolutely NOT a racist. To me, the original meaning of the flag is absolutely a symbol of American pride and patriotism. Even Ben Franklin used the symbol of a snake to stir American pride against the British. I wouldn’t fly the Confederate flag because it represents an ideology and political system that DID exude racism and suppression of Black slaves to do the bidding of their overlords. That is morally wrong, but wanting to be free from political slavery (taxation without representation) is not wrong and I agree with the symbol of a snake bite against England as a declaration of freedom and revolt against a corrupt government.

  58. I don’t see what the problem is, while this flag may be flown by some people who are racist it does not mean that anyone who likes the flag is part of that group. As a Mexican American, I do not see anything wrong with this. It is no different than putting someone in a box because they own a gun for example, or judging someone who doesn’t go to church- this is a free country.

    Putting a label on someone based on an individual belief is both ignorant and unfair to that person. There is already so much division in this country because of extreme thinking and judgment being placed on others.

    We are all Americans and it sure would be nice to see some agreement and less negativity.
    Thanks for your time everybody.

  59. I appreciate your in depth and somewhat fair explanation of the Gadsen flag. I came to your site just after reading the wikipedia article on it and found your thoughts pretty much the same as there. I figure if wikipedia’s pretty good then you are too.

    However, when you characterize left leaning people as persecuting, you’re wrong. Just like being told in a restaurant not to use the f word. That’s not persecution. That is someone else saying to you “hey this offends me”. Now you can keep using the f word, freedom of speech and all that, but if you do you’re just being a jerk. You’re not being persecuted.

    The meaning of symbols change over time. As a southerner I love the battle flag. For me it means hot weather, watermelon, ya’ll, yes sir, no sir, SEC football, grits, cornbread and NASCAR. But, for others, it means racism, slavery, and jim crow. Out of respect for others I don’t fly that flag. And I appreciate the fact that you don’t either.

    Unfortunately the Gadsen flag has ended up in the same situation. Today it seems to be flown as a signifier of affiliation to an ideology that, to me, is abhorrent to the principles that our country was founded on. The idea that you can have a country that IS NOT based on ethnicity. That ANY citizen can rise to the top given that they agree to ideas rather ethnicity.

    Ultimately, because the far right has co-opted this flag, and to some extent co-opted libertarianism. I will not fly this flag. And while I won’t persecute, seeing as how I’m not a prosecutor, I will look askance at those that do.

    1. It is a sad time indeed when people in this country just sit around and poke fingers at one another about race, discrimination and flags that are offensive to some people. It shows how far our country has fallen from its original ideals, and how social media has poisoned and corrupted the minds of the citizens of this country. Ignorance is to blame on the hatred of such beloved historical standards as this flag, the original meaning of its purpose has been washed away by those that have no idea of why it is still important to bear this standard today, to show that we are a country of citizens that will not be controlled by a foreign entity and if our liberty is put to the wire we will fight with the very same passion that won our independence. If you find this offensive or racist you truly need professional help.

    2. Hey Jay;
      I’m on your side. I think it’s stupid that people can hijack the meaning of a flag and somehow tell the rest of us that the meaning has changed. Unfortunately, you can SAY the meaning doesn’t change just because someone interprets it another way, but in reality, if 90% of the population associates a symbol with something other than its original meaning, then the meaning HAS changed. I happen to be an evangelical Christian who knows well the symbolism and meaning of a rainbow. It was God’s promise not to destroy the earth again with water. Unfortunately, if you ask 100 people on the street in New York (or most other large or smaller cities) what the rainbow symbolizes, they’ll tell you it symbolizes the LGBTQ community. Wow – that has NOTHING to do with its original intent, and it does not make me happy.

      However, the world is as it is!

      thanks for the comment,

      Pete

  60. I was recently at a survival store and I saw the symbol and I liked it, then a family member made a comment that it was racist in some way. I decided to Google it and just read about it I personally love history and facts are facts. When this flag came out it meant we came Together As Americans. If anyone comes to this country I believe they should act American because we are all Americans. I think that I will not take it off my car even though I’m taking a risk of ignorant people who don’t love or understand the real meaning of American history. I have a bi-racial child so I am anything but racist. I have Jesus in my heart and I love history and I still believe that should you come to this country I do not mind, but I just want people to be American, so if it symbolizes being American and being proud of it I think we should all get a flag out and stick them on our cars and stay true to the fact that it’s okay to change, and America is always going to be changing but let’s remember to love and respect I’m keeping it on my car! Go Marines go Navy hoorah

    1. I love your reply. My kids are of mixed race as well and I teach them not to hate but to look beyond normal stereotypes. I have the Gadsden license plates on my truck and I’m proud of it. To me it stands for freedom and says don’t tread on my rights. Never as a hate symbol in any way. I have plenty of friends who aren’t Caucasian that have it on there trucks and cars. No big deal!

  61. But that’s the irony here. This flag represents the fight that we (America) put up in order to gain the freedom that we have today – the freedom to be LGBTQ+ without it being illegal or punishable by death. The author never said that gays aren’t persecuted, he was simply drawing a similarity in symbols being adopted for representations other than what they originally meant. And because of that, people are persecuted for flying this flag. Also, whether conversion therapy is truly legal or not, being part of the LGBTQ+ community certainly is legal in America, because we’re free.

  62. The flag standing alone is typically not viewed as racist. But when it sits alongside the Confederate rebel flag, CSA flag, Swastika flag, MAGA flag etc. (like many right-wing political rallies nowadays), we know exactly what it is intended.

    1. Sheldon,
      You are incorrect historically.

      The Confederates and the CSA were all Southern Democrats. The Civil War was REALLY a War between the Northern Democrats and the Southern Democrats as the Republican Party was not even 10 years old and was formed as an Abolitionist Party (in 1856?) to free the Slaves (hence Lincoln’s Emancipation). There is not one Republican on record of ever owning a slave. YouTube ‘Candace Owens’. She’s recently been in front of Congress stating these very things.

    2. Coming in late but as a patriot and a veteran I feel compelled to say:
      Just how fortunate are we that we have the freedom to disagree and discuss? Our fore fathers could not anticipate the complexities of our modern day issues. This flag was not created out of hate. The United States of America was not built on hate. We are in an abyss of “Us vs Them” amongst our neighbors. Literally, the person living next door. Let us not forget that America represents freedom. Freedom to say and act on what you believe, so long as it does not take away your neighbors rights to do the same.
      I have had my Thin Blue Line bumper sticker ripped from my car four times. They have the right to disagree with my support of police officers. They do not have the right to damage my property. My response? I have, at any given time, at least three Thin Blue Line bumper stickers in my car ready to mount. My point being – if you believe in it, stand for it. But stand for it out of respect, not out of hate.
      For those who have negative responses to this flag and to America as a whole, I have good news for you – You don’t have to stay! If you are not happy with your life as an American, go find the happiness you feel is owed to you in another country. And I’ll tell you “God Speed”, because you’ll need it.

  63. “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.”

    Why is that unfortunate? You’re a real strict originalist, hmm? Couldn’t get past that, and it’s at the start!

    1. Hey Jerry;

      I’m not really sure what you mean by your comment, or how you “couldn’t get past that”. I’m guessing you do not agree with me, but that’s okay. It’s called “life”. I think you’re mature enough to “get past that” and read the rest of the article if you care about the topic. I’m guessing (though I could be wrong) that you are in favor of abortion, and if so, you and I would be on opposite sides of the issue. However, if you wrote your reasons as to why you think abortion is an awesome thing, I would have no problem reading it (though I would certainly disagree with your conclusion).
      See, it’s not so hard! Thanks for checking out Knifeup!

      Oh, by the way, you asked “why is that unfortunate?” Here’s the answer; It’s unfortunate because many good citizens who would like to celebrate the resilience and resolve of our country’s founding generations, are having their car windows smashed and properties vandalized by displaying the very symbol that shows their patriotism to the FULL United States of America. Is that a decent answer or did I fall woefully short? 🙂

      J.

    2. What would Ben Franklin think? He made this symbol when the British were trying to take over. How does this apply to USA, the most powerful nation in the world?

  64. Replies to this article best exemplify how the structure of Western society has been eroded by erred correctness, may that be political, cultural, racial and whatnot. I was staggered by the sensitivities of some individuals who replied to a mostly innocuous piece of writing. Nothing in that article but the reference to the LGBTQI+ community was meant to provoke, and that too is not remotely offensive in itself. That is the detrition I am talking about. Provocation for the purpose of rational argument does not make the argument, or even the means one utilises to get to it, incursive or galling just because the argument or the means may be subject to political or cultural tentativeness. I am a homosexual, (half-)American man who supports (Lincoln’s) Republicanism, and would vote for the Federalists in the days of the Founding Fathers. At the same time I support choice in the matter of abortion to a certain temporal extent, I am a staunch supporter of strict gun control and I oppose the prevalent (today) interpretations of the 2nd, 11th and 14th constitutional amendments. I have been admitted to the bar of the state of New York and been called to the bar by Gray’s Inn (E&W), and consider myself a constructionist in judicial interpretation. Thus the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag is a national symbol with an awesome thrust, it had been restored as the Jack of our Navy for almost two decades now and now the oldest ship of the fleet (USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19)) dons it. It is nothing but a symbol of American pride, regardless of its use by groups who threaten the very core of American values.

    1. Hello,
      I’m a Cuban American and I have so much love for the USA and it’s patriotic sentiment. I only lived in Cuba for 15 years. I have been in my USA for almos 30. I respect the symbols and was always curious about the origins and meaning of this one in particular. Thank you for your article.

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