The story of Betsy Ross's Life is one of triumph through adversity. She was disowned by the Quakers. She lost one husband to an explosion at a munitions depot that he was guarding. Her second husband died in a British prison. She survived her third husband, who was sick for many years. She had seven daughters, two of whom died in infancy. She maintained a business through it all. By the way, her pew was next to George Washington's at Christ Church.
The Betsy Ross House: Take a "virtual tour" of the little house on Arch Street in Philadelphia that is a shrine to Betsy Ross and the American Flag.
Betsy Ross and the American Flag. Read this background on early flags.
Picture gallery of the American flag at different times in history.
Flag Facts and Timeline of the history of the American flag.
Did Betsy sew the flag? A detailed analysis of the historical facts, with links to affidavits and Canby's original paper.
Flag rules contains flag etiquette plus the rules and regulations regarding proper handling of the American flag. For example, section 8i states: "The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever."
Quotes and notes about the American flag by poets, authors, politicians, and others.
Flag trivia questions and answers. Who cut the American flag into pieces and was honored for it? Is it ever appropriate to fly the flag upside down? Test your flag knowledge.
Step-by-step directions to cut a 5-pointed star in one snip. Six-pointed stars are easier to cut out of cloth — or so George Washington thought. Betsy Ross showed him how to cut a 5-pointed star in a single snip.
Links to other Web sites of interest about the flag and Betsy Ross.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do the red, white, and blue of the flag represent?
The Continental Congress left no record to show why it chose the colors. However, in 1782, the Congress of the Confederation chose these same colors for the Great Seal of the United States and listed their meaning as follows: white to mean purity and innocence, red for valor and hardiness, and blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. According to legend, George Washington interpreted the elements of the flag this way: the stars were taken from the sky, the red from the British colors, and the white stripes signified the secession from the home country. However, there is no official designation or meaning for the colors of the flag.
Why are the stars in a circle?
The stars were in a circle so that no one colony would be viewed above another. It is reported that George Washington said, "Let the 13 stars in a circle stand as a new constellation in the heavens."
If Betsy sewed the flag, who designed it?
Why would Betsy Ross be chosen to make the flag?
Betsy Ross's daughter, Rachel Fletcher, testified
in 1870, the following: "[The committee] showed her [Betsy Ross] a drawing roughly executed, of the flag as it was proposed to be made by the committee, and that she saw in it some defects in its proportions and the arrangement and shape of the stars. That she said it was square and a flag should be one third longer than its width, that the stars were scattered promiscuously over the field, and she said they should be either in lines or in some adopted form as a circle, or a star, and that the stars were six-pointed in the drawing, and she said they should be five pointed."
It was usual in that day for upholsterers to be flagmakers. As Betsy Ross prayed in the pew next to George Washington and had already sewn buttons for him, and she was a niece of George Ross, it is not exceptional that these members of the Flag Committee formed by the Continental Congress would call upon Betsy Ross to make the flag.
Was this her house?
Where is the first flag?
It is known that Betsy Ross rented rooms here. At the time of the flag creation, she was either here at 239 Arch Street or next door at 241 Arch, where the garden is now. House numbers on her street between the years 1785 and 1857 were registered using three different numbering systems, making the determination very tricky. If you are interested in historical detective work, you'll enjoy the methodical, historical approach used by experts: check out the Was this her house?
No one knows what happened to the first flag. Very few flags from that time have survived.
Why is the flag called "Old Glory"?
In 1831, Captain William Driver, a shipmaster from Salem, Massachusetts, left on one of his many world voyages. Friends presented him with a flag of 24 stars. As the banner opened to the ocean breeze, he exclaimed, "Old Glory." He kept his flag for many years, protecting it during the Civil War, until it was flown over the Tennessee capital. His "Old Glory" became a nickname for all American flags.
Who was Mary Pickersgill?
Mary Young Pickersgill sewed the very large (30'x42') Star-Spangled Banner in the summer of 1813. It flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 (1812-1814) and was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key to write what would become our National Anthem. Pickersgill's flag today hangs at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Her house still stands as a museum you can visit in Baltimore, Maryland.
What is a vexillologist?
A vexillologist is an expert on flags and ensigns. A vexillum (plural vexilla) is a military standard or flag used by ancient Roman troops.
Many people discover among their family relics a certificate from the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association. What is it?
Over two million of these certificates were sold starting in 1898 in order to raise funds needed to preserve the Betsy Ross House. These certificates were receipts or "thank-yous" for contributions of 10 cents. The Association went out of business in 1935. The only "value" to these is the knowledge that the recipient participated in the preservation of the Betsy Ross House.