History of the Gadsden Flag (Don't Tread On Me)

History of the Gadsden Flag (Don't Tread On Me)

Posted by Philip Kauppinen on 15th Apr 2024

The Gadsden Flag has been a popular flag throughout American history. Featuring a coiled rattlesnake and the slogan “DONT TREAD ON ME”, the Gadsden Flag is seen as a symbol of patriotism, individualism, and defiance to oppression.

Where did the Gadsden Flag originate?

The Gadsden Flag can be traced back to the American Revolution. A politician and military general from South Carolina named  Christopher Gadsden designed the flag in 1775. The flag was designed to create a symbol of resistance and unity against the British. 

Gadsden’s design was well received by the Continental Congress and quickly gained popularity among American revolutionaries. Throughout the war, the flag was displayed prominently by American colonists. 

The Gadsden Flag has remained a popular symbol of patriotism and resistance against tyranny, and has been adopted by many groups and movements throughout American history. 

What is the meaning of “Don’t Tread On Me”?

The phrase “Don’t Tread On Me” is intended as a message of independence and defiance against oppression. “Don’t Tread On Me” encompasses the idea that individuals (or nations) have the right to self-determination and should not be subjected to unjust authority. This was a popular sentiment during the American revolution and the colonists’ fight for independence. 

The image of a rattlesnake was chosen for the Gadsden Flag to further amplify its meaning. Drawing inspiration from  Benjamin Franklin’s Join or Die snake cartoon, the rattlesnake was chosen to signify a defensive stance and readiness to strike. The indigenous rattlesnake had gained significance as a symbol of colonial America due to it not being found in Europe. 


Because of the symbolism of independent determination, the Gadsden Flag is often associated in modern times with libertarian or conservative ideology. Often, the flag is flown to display defiance to government involvement.

Can I fly the Gadsden Flag?

There are no regulations regarding the Gadsden Flag, outside of any local ordinances regarding flag displays. The Gadsden Flag has been flown throughout American history to show support for principles such as individual liberty and resistance to oppression. 

Before flying the Gadsden Flag, keep in mind that it is often associated with making a political statement. Due to its adoption by various groups throughout American history, different people may interpret the meaning of the flag differently. Most commonly, the flag is seen as an expression of individualism and opposition to big government.

Where to Buy a Gadsden Flag

Embrace the spirit of American individualism and defiance of big government with a  Gadsden Flag from Grand New Flag. Our flags are available in a variety of sizes and 100% made in the USA. We offer a 15% discount for military service members and first responders and donate 5% of our net profits to nonprofits supporting veterans. 

Fan of cornhole? Check out our  2’x3’ Gadsden Flag cornhole setCornhole sets from Grand New Flag are perfect for tailgates, backyard BBQs, and more.