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Betsy Ross, Her Life and the American Flag

Getty Images, photo by Hulton Archive

The 4th of July is a day to celebrate our independence and the American flag. It is said that the first flag was sewn by Betsy Ross, but what do we really know about her? She was raised in a Quaker family and was the eighth child of seventeen; her given name was Elizabeth Griscom, but was called Betsy by her family.

Betsy Ross went to school eight hours a day learning reading, writing and a trade which was sewing. She became an apprentice in an upholstery shop after her schooling was completed, in those days upholstery meant anything to do with sewing. She, being a Quaker, fell in love with John Ross an Episcopal rector and they were married in November of 1773. Inter-denominational marriages were frowned upon and she was disowned by her family. Betsy and John opened their own upholstery business two years after they were married but the war was coming and John joined the Pennsylvania militia and was killed in mid-January 1776.

According to Betsy, it was the committee of three that came to her requesting she sew the first American flag. The committee consisted of George Washington, George Ross, a representative of Pennsylvania and Robert Morris, the Superintendent of Finance of the new country. (Betsy Ross and the American Flag)

Betsy Ross was married three times and lived a long life dying at the age of 84 on January 30, 1836.

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