Dating back to the War for Independence, the Gadsden flag has long been a symbol of America’s opposition to tyranny. Named after it’s designer, Gen. Christopher Gadsden, the Gadsden flag was first used in 1775 as the personal standard for the flagship of the Continental Navy. In 1775, then Colonel Christopher Gadsden was in Philadelphia representing his home colony of South Carolina at the Continental Congress and presented this new naval flag to the Congress.
It became the first flag used by the sea-going soldiers who eventually would become the United States Marine Corps!
Use of the rattlesnake symbolism originated with Benjamin Franklin’s famous “Join, or Die” political cartoon in 1754. Franklin later explained why he chose the rattlesnake to symbolize the American spirit:
“She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. … she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her.—Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?”