Where The Term

Where The Term "Don't Tread On Me" Came From

February 12, 2018

Emblazoned on a yellow flag under the symbol of a rattlesnake, "Don't tread on me" has long been a symbol of America's toughness, bravery, and freedom, and it began long ago. Officially known as the Gadsden flag, the rattlesnake is their to strike its warning. The use of the rattlesnake was purposeful, as eastern diamondback rattlesnakes were plentiful within the early colonies.

When Britain sent criminals to the colonies, Benjamin Franklin suggested they sent rattlesnakes as a response. The flag got it's name from Christopher Gadsden, the American Statesman and General who design it. The message always remains the same, although there are countless variations that can be found in history and pop culture. However, because Christopher Gadsden was claimed to be a slave owner and trader in a legal case brought about in 2013, the use of the flag is sometimes considered racial harassment.

Traditional versions of the flag from the late 1800s featured a completely yellow backdrop, with the grass around the snake being a more recent addition. Reasoning that "the flag is often used by the tea party movement," New Rochelle in New York recently removed the flag from their military armory.

Despite The Tea Party Movement giving the flag a slightly bad reputation, even leading to some people being arrested for flying this flag, the flag remains a significant part of American history and a symbol of the country's strength and willpower. In fact, Nike has selected the rattlesnake as a symbol to represent the US National soccer team.

A group in Alabama is actually trying to get the state to add the Gadsden flag to the license plate design. And, although many people seem to associate the Gadsden flag with Texas pride, it all began when the young Continental Army was holed up in Cambridge with the British occupying Boston.

It remains a symbol of America's bravery and fighting spirit.