Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross showing Major Ross and Robert Morris how she cut the stars for the American flag; George Washington sits in a chair on the left, Jean Leon Jerome Ferris (1863-1930)

Independence Day (United States)

Jul 4

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Independence Day (United States)
Betsy Ross
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Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"Said Washington to Betsy Ross, "A flag our nation needs To lead our valiant soldiers on to high and noble deeds Now can you make one for us, to which she made reply, 'I am not certain if I can; At least I'll gladly try.'" ~ Our Country's Flag, Traditional

Elizabeth Griscom "Betsy" Ross (1752 – 1836) also known by her second and third married names, Ashburn and Claypoole, is widely credited with making the first American flag. According to family tradition, upon a visit from General George Washington in 1776, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, Ross changed the shape of the stars he had sketched for the flag from six-pointed to five-pointed by demonstrating on the spot that it was not difficult to cut the latter.

Betsy Ross

Elizabeth Griscom "Betsy" Ross (January 1, 1752 – January 30, 1836), née Griscom, also known by her second and third married names, Ashburn and Claypoole, is widely credited with making the first American flag.

 

According to family tradition, upon a visit from General George Washington in 1776, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, Ross changed the shape of the stars he had sketched for the flag from six-pointed to five-pointed by demonstrating on the spot that it was not difficult to cut the latter.

Betsy Ross' life reflected the turbulent times of the American Revolution.

 

Soon after an early marriage to John Ross (nephew of George Ross Jr., a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence), the American Revolutionary War broke out.

 

As a member of the local Pennsylvania Provincial Militia and its units from the city of Philadelphia, John Ross was assigned to guard munitions and, according to one account, was killed by a gunpowder explosion.  The 24-year-old Elizabeth ("Betsy") continued working in the upholstery business, repairing uniforms and making tents, blankets, and stuffed paper tube cartridges with musket balls for prepared packaged ammunition in 1779 for the Continental Army.

There is speculation that Betsy was the "beautiful young widow," who distracted Carl von Donop in Mount Holly, New Jersey, after the Battle of Iron Works Hill, thus keeping his forces out of the crucial "turning-of-the-tide" Battle of Trenton during Christmas, 1776.

On June 15, 1777, she married her second husband, mariner Joseph Ashburn. In 1780, Ashburn's ship was captured by a Royal Navy frigate and he was charged with treason (for being of British ancestry - naturalization to American colonial citizenship was not recognized) and imprisoned at Old Mill Prison in England.  During this troubling time, their first daughter, Zilla, died at the age of nine months and their second daughter, Eliza, was born.  Seaman Ashburn died in the British jail.

Three years later, in May 1783, she married John Claypoole, who had coincidentally earlier met Joseph Ashburn in the English Old Mill Prison and had informed her of her husband's circumstances and death.

 

Betsy Ross died at the age of 84. She was survived by five daughters with John Claypoole: Eliza, Clarissa, Susanna, Jane, and Rachel.   

For more on her life, click the picture of a hand sewn Betsy Ross flag from the 19th century.

Betsy Ross
Betsy Ross

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The majority of dance descriptions referenced on this site have been taken from the

 

Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary or the

Scottish Country Dancing Database 

 

Snapshots of dance descriptions are provided as an overview only.  As updates may have occurred, please click the dance description to be forwarded to a printable dance description or one of the official reference sources.

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