In March 1870, William Canby, the grandson of seamstress Betsy Ross submitted a paper to the Pennsylvania Historical Society recounting a secret meeting by Continental Congress representatives – George Washington, Robert Morris and Colonel George Ross in 1776 – asking Betsy Ross to sew a newly designed flag for the colonies. SHE was never given credit.
Francis Hopkinson is identified as the designer of the first American flag in 1777 because it is noted in the journals of the Second Continental Congress. No historical image exists.
HOWEVER, Hopkinson didn’t invoice the Congress until 1780, which stated, for “the flag of the United States of America” owed: £2,700. The invoice was rejected because it lacked vouchers, like cloth purchased, thread, needles. All the items in Ross’ sewing box.
On resubmitting, he changed the reference from “the flag of the United States of America” to: “The Great Naval Flag of the United States.” That invoice was also rejected.
Who was Betsy Ross? She was a woman of extraordinary strength and guts. At 21, she eloped with John Ross and was summarily cast out by the Quakers because he was an Episcopal. He died tragically three years later. She would marry three times and and bear seven children, all daughters, with five surviving into adulthood.
So today, as she is once again maligned by Nike and Colin Kapernick (do your homework men, Ross had no slaves), I think it’s time to come together and acknowledge the work of this incredible woman and remember the fate of most women at the hands of a colonial system. Women had no power in the early part of our country. They rarely owned property, couldn’t vote and had no control over their destiny. Still, thousands worked tirelessly for the dissolution of slavery as abolitionists, and the right for ALL people to vote.