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Grand Union Flag

The Continental Flag, also known as the Grand Union Flag, holds a significant place in American history as it represents an early symbol of unity and independence during the American Revolutionary War. Its origins can be traced back to late 1775 when the American colonies were still under British rule. The flag was designed to reflect the colonies' desire for reconciliation with Britain while also signaling their growing sense of independence. It featured thirteen alternating red and white stripes, symbolizing the original thirteen colonies, with the British Union Jack in the canton, signifying their continued connection to the British Crown.


Captain John Paul Jones first raised the Grand Union Flag aboard the American warship Alfred on December 3, 1775. Its use continued for about a year as a unifying symbol for American forces, showcasing their mixed feelings of loyalty to Britain and growing aspiration for independence. However, as hostilities escalated, the flag's association with British rule became untenable, leading to the adoption of the Stars and Stripes, the precursor to the current American flag, in 1777.


This historical flag serves as a fascinating emblem of a transitional period in American history when the colonies were moving from British subjects to independent states. To delve deeper into the origins and use of the Continental Flag, you can explore primary sources like letters and documents from the American Revolutionary period, as well as books and articles on the topic. Some recommended sources for further research include "Flags of the American Revolution" by Edward M. Stickney and "Our Flag" by William Rea Furlong.


Additionally, you can visit historical museums and archives such as the Smithsonian National Museum of American History or the Library of Congress, which house valuable collections related to early American flags and their significance in the struggle for independence. These resources will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the Grand Union Flag's role in shaping the early identity of the United States.


Additional Resources:


Smithsonian Magazine 

The Grand Union Flag, Free at Last, and Lighting Up Broadway


National Park Service 

Here's to the Red, White & Blue


History Junkie  

Grand Union Flag


HistoryPod video 

Grand Union Flag Flown for the First Time In American on the Ship Alfred

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