“Don’t Tread on Me”
You’ve seen the flag…you know what I’m talking about.
What you may not know is just where the hell that flag came from, and why it has become a symbol of America in general and gun owners in particular (and also the US Men’s Soccer team, for some reason).
Well, let’s talk about the Don’t Tread on Me Flag, properly called the Gadsden flag, and why it’s important.
The Historical Aspect of the Gadsden Flag
The Gadsden flag is actually one of the earliest symbols of America. The first reference to the flag that I can find was when a flag with a “coiled rattlesnake with 13 rattles depicting the 13 colonies of America” and the iconic “DONT TREAD ON ME” motto underneath was used on drums carried by some of the very first United States Marines after their enlistment in Philadelphia in late 1775.
From there, it was (maybe) flown at the mainmast of the then newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Navy’s flagship. It was gifted to Commodore Esek Hopkins, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy at that time, by Continental Colonel Christopher Gadsden, which is where the flag gets its name. There is some doubt now however whether or not the flag was ever actually flown during the Revolution.
The Gadsden Flag Today
That doesn’t necessarily matter though.
Today, the Gadsden flag has found supporters in several areas as a symbol of patriotism, American pride, disagreement with a tyrannical government, and the support of civil liberties, particularly gun ownership in our current political climate.
The Gadsden flag can now be found on bumper stickers, morale patches, and Facebook cover photos around the country, and even around the world wherever Americana and a desire for civil liberties, including gun ownership.
It’s also a very common meme online and you can find thousands of variations like the one below.
But it’s also one of the chief symbols of the Global War on Terrorism, as chosen by the US Navy. You can also find the flag on the US Army’s Drill Sergeant Identification Badge.
The Gadsden flag is a cool piece of history and one of the only memes to be officially supported by the US military.
Whatever the actual historical significance is, in its pure form it has become a rallying flag for American patriots, sports teams, and those who are against the erosion or oppression of civil liberties.
Want to learn more origin stories? Check out our What does AR mean in AR-15.