Continental Navy Jack
A “Jack” flag is one that is meant to fly from the bow of a ship. The 1st Navy Jack flag’s exact design is not known for certain, but traditional belief is that it consisted of 13 alternating red and white stripes and an uncoiled rattlesnake with 13 rattles across the center with the motto “Don’t Tread on Me” under the snake. In the fall of 1775 Commodore Esek Hopkins, commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy issued a set of signal flags to be flown from the command ship USS Alfred. The red and white striped flag was the “attack” flag. It is likely that John Paul Jones would have raised the flag on the Alfred, as he was the ship’s First Lieutenant. The rattlesnake was a symbol of unity among the colonists against oppression from Great Britain. In a 1751 article written by Benjamin Franklin, he criticized the British for sending their convicted criminals to the colonies and suggested that rattlesnakes should be sent back to Britain to be placed in the gardens of the nobles. Franklin again used the image of a rattlesnake in a 1754 article depicting a snake cut into eight pieces representing the colonies with the caption “Join or Die” suggesting that if the colonies did not work together, they would not survive. The popularity of rattlesnake imagery during and before the American Revolution is attributable to the fact that the rattlesnake could not be found in any other part of the world and displayed unique courage that could be likened to the early American spirit. The rattlesnake never begins a fight and never surrenders once engaged. She never attacks without giving ample warning but strikes with an often deadly result. The snake depicted on the flag has 13 rattles, representing the unity of the 13 colonies. One rattle by itself is incapable of producing a sound, but all 13 together would strike fear in the heart of the boldest of men. The 1st Navy Jack flag and other early American Revolution-era imagery have recently been revived to represent grassroots American resistance to the ever-increasing size of government and its overreach.
In modern-day use, the 1st Navy Jack was flown on all US Naval vessels in 1975 and 1976 to commemorate our nation’s bicentennial. In 1977, it became US Navy policy to continuously fly the 1st Navy Jack from the naval vessel with the longest period of service. On May 31st, 2002, the Navy announced that the 1st Navy Jack would be flown from the bows of all US military vessels until the war on terrorism is over.
Printed 100-denier polyester 3×5 1st Navy Jack flag. The “Don’t Tread on Me” lettering reads correctly from one side only.
- One solid piece of printed, hemmed fabric
- Lightweight, 100-denier polyester that will fly nicely in the slightest breeze.
- Bright colors
- 4 rows of stitching on the fly end to prevent premature fraying
- Reinforced header with brass grommets
- Flag size: 3′ x 5′