I found a pair of shoes from America the other day. While looking a them I realised something was a little odd but I couldn’t figure it out. Several days later I twigged what the cause of my discomfort was.
In America they have a slogan which ou see from time to time side by side with their American flag. It says, “Don’t tread on me”. An odd sentiment for a flag one would feel considering much of it’s life is spent hanging on the end of poles up in the sky where there is little footwear present.*
But then that was the problem with the shoes. They had an American flag stitched right in there on the instep. How could you avoid treading on it?
* The story of the “Don’t tread on me” slogan is actually quite interesting. It actually doesn’t refer to the stars and strips flag at all but a different one altogether called the Gadsden flag. But sometimes the whole thing is combined. The Gadsden flag precedes the stars and stripes but then it’s subject, which is a rattlesnake, actually even precedes that.
The story begins in the French and Indian war. The colonies were wavering in their support for the battles. Some wanted to side with the French others with England. Benjamin Franklin realised that this was a very dangerous time for the United States. He drew a cartoon of a cut up snake with 13 pieces, which represented the 13 colonies,. It played on the superstition at the time that if you cut up a snake each piece of it would form a new snake. The slogan was “Unite or Die.”
The message was a powerful on and spread far and wide. By the time of the war of independence it’s significance re-emerged. In 1775 the colonies created their first joint forces these were the Marines. Because they were a joint forces they had not got a flag at this time. On the barrels of gunpowder the familiar symbol of the snake re-emerged. This time it was a rattlesnake and it had thirteen bands on its tail. The barrels were bright yellow to warn of their dangerous properties which is why the Gadsden flag is usually yellow. It also had the words on each barrel “Don’t tread on me”.
Later that year Benjamin Franklin wrote an anonymous letter to the Pennsylvania Journal. And explained why he thought the rattlesnake should be the national animal. He noted that the only part of the snake that changed was the number of rings grew as it become older. And he pointed out that the rattlesnake was a decent animal. It never attacked except when extremely provoked. And it always gave a warning of attack with it’s rattle which said “Don’t tread on me”. Franklin also believed that the Bald Headed Eagle was a bird of low moral character.**
**Yes this footnote is longer than the original article.