This letter is in response to the Nov. 22 letter by Bill Bartlett of Valley Lee, headlined “We attach much symbolism to American flag.”
The intent of this submission is to provide clarification for two key points mentioned within the letter.
Mr. Bartlett wrote: “It is said Betsy Ross sewed the first flag, but there is some controversy as to who really designed our ‘stars and stripes.’”
As to the seamstress who had accomplished the sewing of the first (Hopkinson) flag, this will likely remain a mystery. It has been stated the Betsy Ross flag was the first official flag of the 13 United States. While the design does have 13 stripes, alternating red and white, with a field of blue in the upper left corner (canton), containing a circle of 13 white stars, it does not appear to be the first design. According to Smithsonian curator and vexillogist Grace Rogers Cooper, the first documented usage of this flag was in 1792 (www.vintagehonor.com/the-betsy-ross.html).
When the Second Continental Congress passed the first flag act, on June 14, 1777, it simply stated “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation. “Continental Marine Committee member Francis Hopkinson was the chairman of the Navy Board, which was under the Marine Committee. He is credited with designing the first official American flag (with 13 six-pointed stars), Continental paper money, and the first U.S. coin.
Hopkinson is recognized as the designer of the flag of the United States, and the record journals of the Continental Congress support this fact.