Saturday, June 7, 2014

Don't Tread on Me

Have you seen the bumper stickers? They are yellow, have a rattlesnake on it, and say “Don’t tread on me”? I have; I’ve been seeing them for a while now.

For those who don’t know about this delightful saying, and where it comes from, allow me to educate you. The bumper sticker is a replica of the Gadsden flag, a historical American flag dating from the Revolution war. The flag is named after Christopher Gadsden, an American general and statesman, who designed it.

Snake symbolism: the timber rattlesnake and eastern diamondback rattlesnake both populate the areas of the original 13 colonies. The symbol of the American colonies as a snake can be traced back to Benjamin Franklin’s publications. During the French and Indian War, Franklin published the image of a snake cut into 8 different sections, representing the colonies with New England joined together as the head, and South Carolina as the tail. When the American colonies began to identify more as their own unique community, icons that were unique to the Americas became popular; this included the rattlesnake and bald eagle. The flag made appearances during the Revolutionary War. The coiled snake represented the American people, and the idea was if they were stepped on they would strike.

So why is this flag making such an appearance recently? What caused it to gain in popularity? Well, the flag has always been there and a part of popular culture, but my suspicion is its gained popularity because of Tea Party involvement. Interesting how symbols evolve over time. No matter your political beliefs it’s interesting that something that symbolized freedom at the start of our country is now a symbol for the Tea Party.

Happy History!

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