The words “Don’t Tread On Me” are about as American as can be. Not only do they capture the spirit of America and the ideal of holding up freedom first, but they are part of one of the earliest flags to appear during the birth of the United States of America: The Gadsen Flag. Featuring a coiled rattlesnake on a full yellow background, this flag displays those all important American words “Don’t Tread On Me,” and has been an important symbol for freedom and liberty ever since.
The Birth Of A Flag
Created by American Revolutionary general Christopher Gadsen in 1775, this flag was an early standard bearer of the Colonial Marines. In fact, this was one of the most common early flags to appear among American armies fighting for freedom against Britain, and the message not only hit home then but continues to do so to this day.
The timber rattlesnake as a symbol was popular because of an early wood carving by Benjamin Franklin, who would create it as the first political cartoon. The symbol showed a snake cut up into pieces, with each piece having the abbreviation of an English colony. While this 1754 cartoon was a message demanding unity during the French Indian War, it also created the native timber rattler as a symbol that would often be used in messages and politics in the colonies.
While it would be inaccurate to say that Franklin’s cartoon directly inspired the Gadsen Flag, at the same time there’s little doubt that his early cartoon served a major part in that image and line of thought being in the minds and designs of revolutionaries in the beginning of the war.
The rattlesnake facing to the left would be a familiar symbol to early revolutionaries and would be a picture that symbolically represents the same idea as the words on the flag.
The Flag In Modern Times
While there are many flags that come and go, there’s no getting rid of the Gadsen Flag and all it represents. In the same way that the Libertarian Party fights for the ideals of true freedom and choice when it seems so few other political parties are, the flag represents the pure idea that made America great and gave birth to the Great American Experiment.
This is part of the reason it seems so appropriate the Gadsen Flag and its timeless message is the chosen symbol of the modern Libertarian Party.