What Is the Name of the American Flag?

Mike Renlund/CC-BY 2.0

The name of the American flag is “Stars and Stripes.” The American flag has a long and interesting history beginning in 1775 when American ships in New England waters flew a flag that they deemed the “Liberty Flag.”

This initial American flag looked nothing like the current flag; it had a white background with a green tree and the words “An Appeal to Heaven” written across the top. The Continental Navy in 1775 decided to create its own flag, which had the warning “Don’t Tread on Me” written underneath a snake. The background was made out of red and white stripes and was the first glimpse of the “Stars and Stripes” flag.

In 1776, the Grand Union flag came into existence and was displayed on Prospect Hill. It had 13 alternate red and white stripes along with the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner. In May of 1776, Betsy Ross would sew the first official American flag, which kept the 13 alternate red and white stripes, but replaced the British Union Jack with a navy square and 13 stars forming a circle.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress stated the following, “Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” The states represented were Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island. It was not until 1960 that the official U.S. flag would contain all 50 stars for the 50 states.