Restraint?

This Day in History - The Path to Freedom 24 Day Liberty Calendar
Prior to the very familiar standard, Old Glory, the Continental Congress (which had informally taken on the role of governance of the 13 colonies) adopted what is often called the Grand Union Standard. And on this day in 1775, the Flag was first raised on the USS Alfred by none other than First Lieutenant John Paul Jones.
 
Then more commonly known as the “Continental Colors,” the standard was simply 13 stripes representing the 13 colonies (red and white, alternating) with a Union Jack in the canton of the design (upper left corner).
Grand Union Flag

You may be wondering why the disgruntled colonists chose to place a Union Jack on their Continental Flag. As is often the case, much controversy surrounds the subject. One school of thought holds that there were still many colonists who felt a strong loyalty to their Motherland thus the Union Jack’s prominence alongside the 13 stripes that sent a strong message of disdain for the treatment they were currently receiving from the Crown.

Still, other historians vehemently disagree and see it as a direct poke in the eye to the oppressive regime of the Brits.  Their reasoning?  Well, since the use of the British Red Ensign (Union Jack) was expressly prohibited by English law by any entity other than the British Royal Navy, it certainly could be viewed as a direct act of defiance on the part of the colonies.  Perhaps the truth rests somewhere in the middle?

King George III by Sir William Beechey

So why and when did we forgo this standard in favor of the very familiar Flag we have known for hundreds of years?  It may have had to do with the fact that the Grand Union was mistakenly interpreted by England as a sign of surrender soon after a letter was penned by King George III to those colonists still showing loyalty to the crown.

In the latter, he pledged “leniency” upon surrender.  Perhaps only because of the timing of the letter, the raising of the Continental Colors was viewed as accepting the terms of the king.

This is yet another example of how, it would seem, that many of the colonists were not yet ready to sever ties to their founding country.  Perhaps had King George III been more intuitive regarding just how far one can push before rebellion breaks out, things may have ended differently. 

The God-given desire to live free is inborn in nearly all of us.  Thus when we perceive that right to be infringed upon, we will do whatever is necessary to restore it.

“Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint.” – Daniel Webster

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