Betsy Ross

By Kate Spina


The American flag flies on the moon, sits on top of Mount Everest, and is flying out in space. The flag is how America is symbolized. Old Glory is recognized all over the world. It is no surprise that Betsy Ross has become one of the most well-known figures of American History because of her role in creating the first design that has become so famous.

Betsy Ross's Childhood

Betsy Ross was born on January 1, 1752, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her real name was Elizabeth, but everyone called her Betsy. Betsy, her mother, and her sisters sewed out of necessity. Betsy’s love for sewing started right there and then. Imagine not being able to shop in a store, but instead having to make clothing by hand out of pieces of fabric! Instead of a tedious chore, sewing became her passion. When Betsy was only about 12 years old she started making clothing for the whole family. All that practice turned into a terrific and very useful skill.

Being a Seamstress

Later on, as Betsy became more of a skilled seamstress, she mended soldiers’ uniforms. Being a seamstress in colonial times was a hard job to manage. All orders needed to be done on time and everything had to be done just right, but Betsy managed. In fact, she maintained a business even though her life wasn’t always easy. She knew that the flag symbolized the strength of the colonial people. Even today soldiers and police officers proudly wear the American flag on their arm. Seamstresses today gladly sew the patches on the uniform, much in the same way Betsy had once gladly mended the colonial uniforms.

Betsy's Great Achivement

Creating the flag was Betsy Ross’s greatest achievement. General George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, and other Continental Congressmen went to Betsy’s upholstery shop and asked for a flag that could represent their new home. On the flag the red stood for courage, the white stood for purity, and the blue stood for justice. General George Washington originally sketched a six-pointed star for the flag. Betsy changed the design to a five-pointed star by demonstrating that his design was too difficult to cut. Surprisingly, Betsy was able to cut the five-pointed star in one snip! On June 14, 1777, the Congress officially called for a flag with 13 stars and stripes representing each of the original 13 colonies. This was the first design. It has changed many times, but Betsy is still credited for creating the flag.

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The Rumors

Although Betsy Ross’s name is widely associated with the creation of the flag, there are rumors that say Betsy did not create the first American flag. According to the text stated, “The Betsy Ross story is the most tenacious piece of fiction involving the flag. There simply is no credible historical evidence — letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, bills of sale — that Ross (then known as Elizabeth Claypoole) either made or had a hand in designing the American flag before it made its debut in 1777.” Some people believe this tale, others do not. The story first surfaced in writings from her grandson in the 1870s. That was a century later. There is actually no documentation from the earlier years.


Sadly, Betsy Ross died in 1836 from natural causes. In her 84 years of life she accomplished many great things. Her achievements and dedication to America will be remembered forever. Every time an American looks up to salute our flag, Betsy Ross will be remembered. As Betsy Ross once said,“Our hearts aching our prayers praying our flags waving never forget.” Even though there may be doubts about the true beginnings, when we view the flag, we think of liberty, freedom, pride, and Betsy Ross.


Leepson, Marc. "Five Myths about the American Flag." Washington Post. N.p., 10 June 2011. Web.