Betsy Ross – woman who sewed American flag
Betsy Ross was the Philadelphia seamstress and upholsterer. She was the woman who sewed the first U.S. flag in 1776. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress, on a motion from John Adams, adopted the stars and stripes as the national flag.
Elizabeth Griscom was born on January 1, 1752 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the eighth of 17 children. Her father, Samuel, operated a building business. The business was established by her great-grandfather Andrew Griscom, who had emigrated from England in 1680. Her parents, Samuel and Rebecca Griscom, belonged to the Society of Friends (Quakers), so in their house there was an atmosphere of strict discipline. Betsy learned embroidery from her great-aunt Sarah Griscom.
In 1773 she married John Ross. Ross and her husband opened an upholstery and sewing shop on Arch Street, Philadelphia. John was a member of the state militia. He was killed three years later in an explosion.
According to legend Washington, Ross, and Robert Morris came to Mrs. Ross’s house in June 1776 and asked her to make a flag for the new country. The flag was to have 13 stars and 13 stripes, to stand for the 13 American colonies.
On June 15, 1777, Ross married Captain Joseph Ashburn. They had two daughters. Ross became a widow again. Ashburn died on March 3, 1782, in the Old Mill Prison in Plymouth, after he was captured at sea by the British Navy.
On May 8, 1783 Ross married John Claypoole, a lifelong friend of both Ross and Ashburn. Betsy and her new husband joined the Society of Free Quakers. John and Betsy had five daughters. After her third husband’s death in 1817, Ross lived the remainder of her life with one of her daughters. Ross worked in the shop until 1827.
Betsy Ross died on January 30, 1836 at the age of 84 and was buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery, Philadelphia.
In 1887 the house where she made the flag was marked as a historical landmark.
U.S. flag historian (paleovexillologist) Earl Williams kindly presented me with the information about the flag. Earl Williams wrote: “Scholars now say that Betsy Ross really sewed blue ensigns (naval flags) and narrow, red ship’s pennants for Pennsylvania’s navy during the American Revolution. After the War, she and her family business made U.S. flags for 50 years. (See the attached file on Betsy Ross.)
General George Washington had nothing to do with creating the Stars and Stripes because it was a naval matter. The designer of the Stars and Stripes was Continental Congressman Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey. The Continental Marine (maritime) Committee sponsored the U.S. Flag Resolution, which Congress adopted on June 14, 1777 — Flag Day. Hopkinson had been a member of the Marine Committee in the Fall of 1776, and on June 14, 1777, he was in charge of the U.S. Navy.
Hopkinson designed two Stars and Stripes flags: (1) one for the United States with 7 white stripes and 6 red stripes and (2) one for the U.S. Navy with the reverse — 7 red stripes and 6 white stripes for better visibility at sea. Ironically, Hopkinson’s naval flag became the preferred National flag. (See the attached file on Francis Hopkinson.)”