Celebrating July 4th and our nation’s Declaration of Independence. On the front, “1776” and our nation’s first flag. (More on the flag below.)
The shirt is a super-comfortable heather grey stretch tank that is 57% combed ringspun cotton/38% polyester/5% spandex. It has a fitted style with side seams and is pre-washed to reduce shrinkage.
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About the flag
By the end of 1775, during the first year of the American Revolutionary War, the Second Continental Congress operated as a de facto war government authorizing the creation of an Army, a Navy and even a small Marine Corps. A new flag was needed to represent the Congress and fledgling nation, initially the United Colonies, with a banner distinct from the British Red Ensign flown from civilian and merchant vessels, the White Ensign of theBritish Royal Navy, and the British Union flags carried by the British Army’s men on land. Individual states had been using their own independent flags with Massachusetts using the Taunton Flag and New York using the George Rex Flag prior to the adoption of the Grand Union Flag.
The U.S. colonists’ (Continental Colour) was first hoisted on the colonial warship Alfred, in the harbor on the western shore of the Delaware River at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 3, 1775, by newly-appointed Lieutenant John Paul Jones of the formative Continental Navy. The event had been documented in letters to Congress and eyewitness accounts. The flag was used by the U.S. Continental Army forces as both a naval ensign and garrison flag throughout 1776 and early 1777.
It is not known for certain when or by whom the design of the Continental Colors was created, but the flag could easily be produced by sewing white stripes onto the British Red Ensigns. The “Alfred” flag has been credited to Margaret Manny.
It was widely believed that the flag was raised by George Washington’s Army on New Year’s Day, 1776, at Prospect Hill in Charlestown (now part of Somerville), near his headquarters at Cambridge, Massachusetts, (across the Charles River to the north from Boston), which was then surrounding and laying siege to the British forces then occupying the city, and that the flag was interpreted by British military observers in the city under commanding General Thomas Gage, as a sign of surrender. Some scholars dispute the traditional account and conclude that the flag raised at Prospect Hill was probably a British union flag.
The name “Grand Union” is contemporary to Reconstruction-era historians and was first applied to the Continental Colors by George Henry Preble, in his 1872 History of the American Flag.