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Liberty Flags (U.S.)

Historical

Last modified: 2011-06-10 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | liberty | sons of liberty |
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Overview

These flags represented a movement. "Liberty" flags were quite common throughout the colonies; examples exist from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, South Carolina and Georgia. The Taunton *was* an early flag of the "movement," prior to the Sons of Liberty's stripes. I think the "Liberty" Flags were meant to be substantially the same throughout the colonies.
Dave Martucci, 17 February 1998

Liberty Poles, Liberty Trees, and Liberty Flags were mentioned with increased frequency as protests began to grow within the colonies prior to the Revolution. Men banded together into Sons of Liberty societies and would meet under some large oak or other distinctive tree on the green. They erected Liberty Poles which local authorities and Loyalists would, of course, try to chop down. In one instance, after their Pole had been destroyed for the second time, the local Liberty Boys raised a massive replacement sheathed in iron.
Source: Standards and Colors of the American Revolution[ric82]
Rick Wyatt, 18 July 2001


Sons of Liberty Flags

[Sons of Liberty Horizontal Stripes]
Horizontal Stripes
image by Rick Wyatt, 18 July 2001
[Sons of Liberty Vertical Stripes]
Vertical Stripes
image by Dave Martucci, 2 December 1999

In the July 1936 National Geographic Magazine, I found a photo of the Sons of Liberty Flag of Boston flown in the 1760s to protest colonial treatment. The photo shows the flag displayed flat and its 9 alternate red and white vertical stripes are clearly visible. The flag is displayed today at the Old State House in Boston, folded, in a controlled environment case.
Dave Martucci, 2 December 1999

I should note that the nine stripes of the vertical Sons of Liberty flag represented the nine protesting colonies that participated in the Stamp Act Congress of 1765. The nine colonies represented are: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina. However, this list is not historically significant in that participation was limited by the short notice given and that afterward the Assemblies of the four other colonies agreed to support the work of the Congress.
Richard Knipel, 11 July 2004

The flag of the Sons of Liberty prior to the American Revolution consisted of 9 vertical red and white stripes. "The four white and five red stripes were symbolic of '45' the number of the pamphlet published in 1763 by the English civil-rights activist John Wilkes, whose influence on the American revolutionary movement was second only to Tom Paine's 'Common Sense.' ... Later, the symbolism of '9' came to apply to the nine states represented at the adoption of the Constitution on September 17, 1787 - and also the nine states which ratified it into existence."

Source: Mastai, The Stars and the Stripes, [mas73]
Randy Young, 2 August 2001