Who designed the original “Stars and Stripes” flag of the United States is a point never definitely confirmed. Was it Betsy Ross, expert Philadelphia seamstress, or New Jersey’s Congressman Francis Hopkinson?
The traditional story that Betsy Ross designed the original flag in 1776 has caught the popular fancy but no official record substantiates the story. Some historians claim that in June 1776, Gen. George Washington, Robert Morris and Betsy’s uncle, George Ross, went to her Philadelphia upholstery shop. The men told her they were members of a congressional committee. They showed her a rough design of a stars and stripes flag and asked her if she would make the emblem. She said yes and recommended making the stars five-pointed instead of six. The change was approved.
George Washington drew another design, and Betsy Ross sewed the emblem. On June 14, 1777, Congress adopted it as the official U.S. flag. That is the Betsy Ross story as it is related. However, some sources claim there is no official record of a congressional flag committee. The only documented evidence naming Mrs. Ross is said to be a voucher dated May 29, 1777, showing that she was paid 14 pounds and some shillings for flags she made for the Pennsylvania Navy.
Note: Recent historic research indicates Francis Hopkinson, a consultant to the Second Continental Congress is responsible for designing the original Stars and Stripes.
1. Historians now credit Francis Hopkinson as the designer of the American flag. (Source: Leepson, Marc. “Flag: An American Biography.” St. Martin’s Griffin. 2005. p. 33.)
2. The Flag Manufacturers Association of America (FMAA) issued the following Tweet on February 4, 2021:
FMAA@FMAA_USA – Feb 4
#FlagFact: The designer of the American flag was Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence as a delegate from New Jersey.
Submitted by Earl P. Williams, Jr., U.S. flag historian (paleovexillologist)