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"G" is for the Gadsden Flag

South Carolina from A to Z logo

"G" is for the Gadsden Flag, a bright yellow banner with a gray, coiled rattlesnake at its center with the words “Don't Tread on Me” inscribed beneath. Although there had been similar flags since the French and Indian War, this particular flag can be traced to Christopher Gadsden, one of the state's delegates to the First Continental Congress. The rattlesnake in a variety of poses was used to reflect colonial anger and defiance. As a member of the congressional committee on Naval Affairs, Gadsden presented the banner to the commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy who used it as the country's first naval jack. Gadsden also presented “an elegant standard” to the state's Provincial Congress in February 1776 and it was displayed behind the Speaker’s Desk. The Gadsden flag is a visible symbol of South Carolina’s long tradition of defying external authority.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.