“Don’t Tread on Me” is not an ordinary statement in the U.S. It is a phrase with actually very deep historical roots.  It was written below a rattle snake’s image and inscribed on a yellow flag.  This flag, which is included among America’s historical flags, is referred to as the Gadsden flag.

It’s Meaning and History

There is a deep meaning to the flag’s symbolism combined with the image.  Basically, the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me” partnered with the image of the snake set to strike is actually a warning that tells people to avoid stepping on or taking advantage of the Americans or else they will strike.

It is not by chance that the snake – or more particularly the rattlesnake – was used. As a matter of fact, the timber rattlesnake and eastern diamondback rattlesnake were quite many within the colonies. The rattlesnake had long been depicted as a symbol of resistance to British oppressive acts in Colonial America.  This is why Benjamin Franklin suggested in a humorous article that Americas should send rattlesnakes to Britain as a way of responding to their sending of convicts to the colonies.

The early flags of the young United States bore this phrase. It was actually a defiant phrase that still exists both as a political slogan as well as a military emblem.  This revolutionary War slogan accompanied a rattlesnake’s picture and this combination was attributed to Benjamin Franklin. In an article in “The Pennsylvania Journal” in 1775, he described how he saw it painted on a marine’s drum, and this inspired him to consider the snake as a suitable national symbol. The motto portends harm to whoever may seek to tread on colonial Americans, the same way Prime Minister Frederick, Lord North had actually done.

The snake has the habit of honorably warning its enemies to beware of the danger of stepping on it and this perfectly fitted what Benjamin Franklin stated. The unity of the colonies in military action was indicated in the 13 rattlesnakes and many early flags used this slogan and snake.

Development of the Gadsden Flag

The most famous one is the Gadsden Flag that was named after a Continental Congressman, Christopher Gadsden. He presented it South Carolina’s legislature for display in 1776. However, according to Gadsden, a certain type of the flag was already being used by the United States Navy. Its recorded use is traced by the United States Naval History and Heritage Command to 1777 but popular tradition, probably according to Gadsden and Franklin’s suggestions, believes that it was used before then. As a military motto, this slogan underlines its antagonistic intent.

Why It Is Important

Although at present there are a number of variations of the Gadsden flag, the message remains the same. This flag is a very significant symbol or representation of the American history.  Today, the U.S is proud about its freedom, and at times it even states that it is the world’s freest country. That is why it is an amazing representation of the country’s strength and willpower, making it the world leader it currently is. It is important for the young Americans to understand both the impact and the basic meaning of the flag to their history.