Did Betsy Ross Design the First American Flag?

Betsy Ross Flag
Betsy Ross Flag

Most historians question the possibility of Betsy Ross being the designer of the first American flag. The story is a historical myth made public after the close of the Civil War. Betsy Ross’ story did not surface until thirty-four years after her death when her son, William J. Canby presented a paper he wrote to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He claims stories were verbally passed down throughout the years by Betsy and other family members about her designing the first American flag.

There are several reasons historians question Betsy Ross’ involvement with the first American flag. No records indicate that Continental Congress had a committee to design the national flag in the spring of 1776. Even though Betsy Ross kept detailed store records, no invoice or document has been found linking to this transaction. The first meeting, discussion or debate by Congress to discuss a national flag did not occur until Flag Day on June 14, 1777.

Many historians speculate there were at least seventeen flag makers and upholsters working in Philadelphia during the time the flag was created. Some historians theorize Margaret Manny may have designed the first Continental Colors Flag, but lack evidence to link her with the first national flag. Other flag makers working in Philadelphia during that time include Rebecca Young, Anne King, Cornelia Bridges, and William Barrett. Any flag maker in Philadelphia could have designed the first American flag.

While everyone enjoys the story of Betsy Ross been the designer of the first American flag, historians are still searching. Do you want to learn more about Betsy Ross and the first American flag? Visit the United States Flag Store and read about it. Please, share your opinions on this controversial subject.