Our country’s history is full of people who were influential for a wide range of reasons. The American Revolution was a time that was particularly important for our nation and many people were key in helping the US achieve its own independence.
While there are many men who are important historical figures, there are a number of influential women who helped to shape our country as well. Betsy Ross, who is said to have made the first American flag shortly before the Declaration of Independence was signed, is one of these women.
Who is Betsy Ross?
Betsy Ross, born in 1752, was a seamstress and owned an upholstery business with her first husband, John Ross. Her husband enlisted in the army after the Revolution began, and was killed while on duty one day. Even after her first husband’s death, Betsy continued to run the business as a war widow. She married twice more after that.
It was while running her upholstery business that Betsy began to make flags and gain a reputation for producing quality flags. She began to make flags for the state of Pennsylvania.
According to her grandchildren, Betsy Ross would tell her children and grandchildren that she was responsible for making the first American flag. Although the details of this story have not been entirely authenticated, legend goes (according to her grandson), Betsy met with a secret committee comprised of three members of Congress, including George Washington, Robert Morris, and her uncle George Morris. It was at this meeting that she was asked to sew the first American flag. George Washington showed her a design of the idea, and she then showed him how to cut a 5-pointed star. She finished the flag before the Declaration of Independence was read aloud for the first time.
While the authenticity of this story is in question, there is no doubt that Betsy Ross did have an upholstery business and she was acquainted with George Washington both socially and through business; her pew was beside the Washington’s at church, and she also embroidered cuffs and ruffles for him.
Today, the Betsy Ross house is an important historical stop in Philadelphia.
Why is Betsy Ross Important?
Whether or not the story is actually true, Betsy Ross has become an important part of history. The following are some reasons for this:
* A new flag was important. At the time, the colonies used their own flags, many of which closely resembled the British flag, precisely who the new country was trying to gain independence from. For that reason, a flag to unite the country as one was needed.
* The flag is a revered symbol. Hundreds of years later, the American flag is one of the most recognized and respected symbols there is. Having played a part in its creation makes Betsy Ross important.
* Betsy Ross was a role model. In her lifetime, she faced the death of three husbands and two daughters. As a widow three times over, she still ran a business and managed as a single mother in a time of war and during a time where women did not have the same respect and freedoms as women today have.
Regardless of the truthfulness of the entire story of whether or not Betsy Ross made the first American flag, she remains an important female figure in the time of the America Revolution.