The 2 ft x 3 ft Dont Tread On Me Flag is perfect for the home or office or large boat. In 1980 the Secretary of the Navy directed that the ship with the longest active status shall display the First Navy Jack until decommissioned or transferred to inactive service. Then the flag will be passed to the next ship in line. This honor was conferred on the following U.S. Navy vessels:
1981–1982: Destroyer tender USS Dixie (AD-14), commissioned 1940
1982–1993: Destroyer tender USS Prairie (AD-15), commissioned 1940
1993–1993: Submarine tender USS Orion (AS-18), commissioned 1943
1993–1995: Repair Ship USS Jason (AR-8), commissioned 1944
1995–1995: Ammunition ship USS Mauna Kea (AE-22), commissioned 1957
1995–1998: Aircraft carrier USS Independence (CV-62), commissioned 1959
1998–2009: Aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), commissioned in 1961
2009-Present: Aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65), commissioned 1961
In the autumn of 1775, as the first ships of the Continental Navy readied in the Delaware River, Commodore Esek Hopkins issued, in a set of fleet signals, an instruction directing his vessels to fly a "striped" jack and ensign. The exact design of these flags is unknown. The ensign was likely to have been the Grand Union Flag, and the jack a simplified version of the ensign: a field of 13 horizontal red and white stripes. However, the jack has traditionally been depicted as consisting of thirteen red and white stripes charged with an uncoiled rattlesnake and the motto "Dont Tread on Me" (sic); this tradition dates at least back to 1880, when this design appeared in a color plate in Admiral George Henry Preble's influential History of the Flag of the United States. Recent scholarship, however, has demonstrated that this inferred design never actually existed but "was a 19th-century mistake based on an erroneous 1776 engraving".
In 1778, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to the Ambassador of Naples, thanking him for allowing entry of American ships into Sicilian ports. The letter describes the American flag according to the 1777 Flag Resolution, but also describes a flag of "South Carolina, a rattlesnake, in the middle of the thirteen stripes."
The rattlesnake had long been a symbol of resistance to the British in Colonial America. The phrase "Don't tread on me" was coined during the American Revolutionary War, a variant perhaps of the snake severed in segments labelled with the names of the colonies and the legend "Join, or Die" which had appeared first in Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754, as a political cartoon reflecting on the Albany Congress.
The rattlesnake (specifically, the Timber Rattlesnake) is especially significant and symbolic to the American Revolution. The rattle has thirteen layers, signifying the original Thirteen Colonies. And, the snake does not strike until provoked, a quality echoed by the phrase "Don't tread on me."
The rattle of the rattlesnake is composed of a series of nested, hollow beads which are actually modified scales from the tail tip. Each time the snake sheds its skin, a new rattle segment is added. They may shed their skins several times a year depending on food supply and growth rates. Newborn rattlesnakes(pre-button) do not have functional rattles; it isn't until after they have shed their skin for the first time that they gain an additional bead, which beats against the first bead, known as the button, to create the rattling sound. Adult snakes may lose their rattles on occasion, but more appear at each molting. If the rattle absorbs enough water in wet weather, it will not make noise.