With so many historical sights to be seen in Philadelphia, sometimes it's nice to just walk the side streets to learn the history. This flag was looking so perfect on the beautiful 4th of July in Philadelphia I snapped a picture.
I recognized the snake symbol from Benjamin Franklin's "Join or Die" political cartoon, I didn't know the origin or meaning of this flag. A random sunny day picture has taught me a little history lesson.
Called the Gadsden Flag, in memorial of it's designer American General Christopher Gadsden, it was one of the first flags used to display the unity of the states. It was the first flag carried into battle with the British by the Continental Marine Corps. Gadson was inspired to have a snake on the flag by the before mentioned "Join or Die". Britain was sending prisoners to the states and Benjamin Franklin thought they should send Britain cargoes of snakes in return.
From Gadsden.info, I learned another reason the colonists identified with a snake. Apparently in 1775 an anonymous author wrote to a Philadelphia newspaper with very specific insight into the snake symbolism. Scholars believe this anonymous writer was none other than Benjamin Franklin himself.
The snake: "She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. ... she never wounds 'till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.
I wonder why the snake is referred to as a "she"? I like it!
It's interesting to learn about the symbols and signs used by the founding fathers to unite the country, and how they were used!
Links to learn more!