One of the “first” flags designed and used by the American Colonies at the start of The American Revolution, The Gadsden Flag was named after Colonial (and later Diplomat), Christopher Gadsden. The flag is a yellow field with a coiled rattlesnake – positioned in the center of the field. Under the reptile is the phrase “Don't Tread On Me”. Many theories have been put forth as to the placing of the snake. One popular theory, is that the idea was taken from a cartoon drawn by Benjamin Franklin in 1775 for a Massachusetts newspaper. A portioned rattlesnake (each piece representing a Colony) – was featured with the wording “Join or Die” (pointing to the need for The Colonies to unite against English tyranny or face extinction). The snake symbol became a rallying point for many in early Colonial America.
The Gadsden Flag was also the official flag of the young US Navy (all 7 ships!). It was slightly modified with white and red striping. It also featured as a Battle Flag for several Colonial Militias. The rattlesnake and phrase was incorporated into The Seal of The US War Department (upon it's creation). It is still part of the crest of The US Army (with the phrase having been replaced with “This We'll Defend”). The Gadsden Flag is still considered an iconic and widely recognized flag throughout The World.