The flag was designed by Colonel Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina, originally as a naval standard. The design was not original to Gadsden, although he popularized the coiled snake image used on the flag. During the Revolutionary War period, American colonists who were against British rule used the rattle snake as a nationalist symbol of political rebellion. Other rattlesnake symbols used at the time featured snakes stretched out lengthwise, or cut into pieces, instead of coiled.
As of 2015, the Gadsden flag is often used as a symbol by conservative and libertarian groups, especially the Tea Party. Because the flag has been used by far-right militias during acts of domestic terrorism, its use by modern political groups is controversial.Learn more about US History