Our nation’s history is rich and has a number of important figures who helped form our country when it was young. The founding fathers made a great number of sacrifices in order to make our country what it is today.
There were also “founding mothers” who contributed to the founding and development of our country during the American Revolution. One of these brave women was Betsy Ross, who is credited with making the first American flag. Although this story has turned out to be legend, she still was a noble figure during the time.
Who is Betsy Ross?
Born January 1, 1752, in Philadelphia, Betsy Ross (born Elizabeth Griscom) was raised a Quaker. When she married Anglican John Ross, however, it was considered scandalous for a number of reasons, the main reason being he was not the same religion. Not only was she was expelled from the Friends, but her family was shamed and disowned her as well. She and John eloped when she was just 21, and she joined the Free Quakers, who were not quite as strict.
With her husband, Betsy ran an upholstery business, as Betsy was skilled in needle work. When the war broke out, John joined the militia, where he was in charge of guarding the gunpowder. Then in 1776, John was killed while on militia duty when some of the powder exploded. Betsy continued the business she and her husband began. One of the jobs she took on was making flags for the state of Pennsylvania. This is where her reputation as a flag maker grew.
Like many women of her time, often out of economic necessity, Betsy Ross remarried quickly. A year later, she married her second husband, a sailor, Joseph Ashburn. In 1781, his ship was captured and he died in prison a year later. She had two daughters with him, one dying as an infant.
Betsy remarried for the third time a year later. She married a friend of her husband’s, John Claypoole, who was actually the man who told her her husband had died, in 1783. The couple had five daughters, four of whom lived to adulthood. She also raised a young niece after her sister passed away.
Betsy Ross and the First American Flag
Betsy Ross is credited with meeting George Washington, teaching him how to cut a five-pointed star, and then making the first American flag as well as many others for the next 50 years. However, this is known largely as a legend now, first told by her grandson, who claims Betsy Ross told him the story years before first relating it to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1870.
While the story may or may not be true, there are certain parts that are definitely facts. Betsy Ross was acquainted with George Washington; his family pew was next to hers at the Christ Church they both attended. She was also undisputedly a flag maker and was commissioned to make flags for Pennsylvania and the Navy.
Today, visitors still go to the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia and it is considered a must-see as far as history in Philadelphia is concerned. However, whether or not Betsy resided in that house or the one next door to it is not clear.
Regardless of whether she did make the first flag, Betsy Ross was still an important historical figure.