Gadsden Flag Patch - "DONT TREAD ON ME" - Brown on MultiCam

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Embroidered Gadsden flag on MultiCam background.

The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a timber rattlesnake[1][2] coiled and ready to strike. Beneath the rattlesnake are the words "DONT TREAD ON ME".[a] Some modern versions of the flag include an apostrophe.

The flag is named for Christopher Gadsden, a South Carolina delegate to the Continental Congress and brigadier general in the Continental Army[4][5] who designed the flag in 1775 during the American Revolution.[6] He gave the flag to Commodore Esek Hopkins, and it was unfurled on the main mast of Hopkins's flagship USS Alfred on December 20, 1775.[5][7] Two days later, Congress made Hopkins commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy.[8] He adopted the Gadsden banner as his personal flag, flying it from the mainmast of the flagship while he was aboard.[5] The Continental Marines also flew the flag during the early part of the war.[6]

The rattlesnake was a symbol of the unity of the Thirteen Colonies at the start of the Revolutionary War, and it had a long history as a political symbol in America. Benjamin Franklin used it for his Join, or Die woodcut in 1754.[5][9] Gadsden intended his flag as a warning to Britain not to violate the liberties of its American subjects.[5]

The flag has been described as the "most popular symbol of the American Revolution."[5] Its design proclaims an assertive warning of vigilance and willingness to act in defense against coercion.[10] This has led it to be associated with the ideas of individualism and liberty.[11][12][13][14][15][16] It is often used in the United States as a symbol for right-libertarianism, classical liberalism, and small government; for distrust or defiance against authorities and government.[17][18][19]