Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross got it all sewed up.

Born this day in 1752: Betsy Ross (1752–1836), Philadelphia native and seamstress who, according to legend, sewed the first American flag

Betsy Ross was born Elizabeth Griscom in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania, in 1752. In 1773 she married a militia man named John Ross, who died in service in 1776. After his death, Betsy Ross, herself a trained upholsterer and seamstress, took over their upholstery business. Ross made quite a success out of the business and was known (through documentary evidence) to have sewn flags for the colony’s navy. In 1827 she passed her business on to her daughter.
With no documentation supporting or contradicting the claim, Ross is accepted by legend if not by fact to be the person to have sewn the first American flag. As the story goes, first written down by her grandson in 1870, George Washington, along with Robert Morris and George Ross (who was also John’s uncle), commissioned the flag, and Ross herself suggested the five-pointed star. The flag was adopted by the Continental Congress on June 14,1777. I say let Betsy have at it. Legends are part of American identity, too. Washington has his cherry tree, Ross has the flag. At the very least, we can laud Ross as a patriot and very successful businesswoman. And we can take heart that America, by nurturing this legend, wants to put into the hands of a woman the symbol that lies most near and dear to its heart.

Happy New Year!

Just for fun, take a virtual tour of Betsy Ross’s house!

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