The Grand Union Flag
The opening sentence of the Declaration of Independence is without a doubt a sobering reflection of the loyalty that the Americans had to Great Britain. It tees up the reasons for independence that flow after it to be sure, but in reality that single sentence is an inflection point for the colonists - turning from loyal subjects to free citizens.
The Grand Union Flag is ultimately a combination of flags that colonists were very used to seeing by the mid 1770’s. The Grand Union flag placed the British Union Flag in the canton and had a field of alternating red and white stripes, very similar to the Sons of Liberty. This would have easily conveyed the idea of independence but loyalty at the same time.
First raised as a naval ensign aboard the man-of-war ship Alfred commanded by John Paul Jones in early December 1775, it would have perfectly represented the sentiments of pushing off tyranny but remembering one’s roots. The flag continued to be used as a garrison flag through 1776 and into the summer of 1777 before the passage of the Flag Resolution by the 2nd Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The British Union Flag was dropped from the final national flag criteria established by Congress however. But up to that time, in essence, the Grand Union Flag was America’s first national flag.
The designer of the Grand Union flag isn’t clear and historians have offered many theories. In keeping with the theme of loyalty that most colonists felt until the very end, it would have been an easy thing to incorporate the British Union flag of the period (the same “Union Jack” we know today except it lacked the St. Patrick’s Cross of Ireland) along with the emerging 13 colonies pattern of alternating red and white stripes. In fact, the Grand Union flag was very similar to the British East India Company’s flag, the BEIC flag having more stripes however. Modern countries such as Australia and New Zealand retain this theme of loyalty to Great Britain with the Union Jack in the upper left corner.
The Grand Union has been referred to by four other names:
- The Continental Colors - the colonies were often formally referred to as the United Colonies of North America
- The Congress Flag – this is the flag that Congress met under during deliberations and government duties
- The First Navy Ensign – this the most common alternative name since it flew above the first warship of the colonies, the Alfred as mentioned above
- The Cambridge Flag – George Washington is said to have raised this flag near Cambridge, Massachusetts at the end of 1776 (which caused some confusion due to formal independence having been announced and some British military officials thought it was a flag of surrender)
Our Grand Union Flag patch captures in fine detail the birth of a new nation still tied to its motherland, clinging to loyalty until the very end, but ultimately asserting itself as a free people.
- Hook Backing
- Release: 04/12/2021
** Vintage (Incorrect Colors) is being sold as-is. We got these in and the color scheme isn't correct, but still a good looking flag **