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Don't Tread on Me

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

The Gadsden Flag is the iconic historical yellow flag depicting a timber rattlesnake, coiled on top of green grass, and ready to strike. Underneath the image is the phrase "Don't Tread on Me".

Recently the flag has represented the second amendment, patriotism, rebelling against government tranny, oppression, over taxation, wasteful spending, and our friends on the hard left have associated the image with racism.

In this blog I will cover the historical origin of the flag and how it impacted the Don't Tread on Me shirt design from Outlawed Ink.


The flags origin isn't entirely clear and can't be given to a single individual but rather a few people and key points in history starting with Benjamin Franklin and an image he was credited for creating in 1754. The image portraits a snake cut up into eight pieces representing the original colonies with "JOIN, or DIE" written across the bottom. The picture was attached to an essay for British colonists with the intent to unite the colonists to combat the French and their Native American allies, and to convince the British government to support a unified colonial government in America.

"I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids—She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.—She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage.—As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal:—Conscious of this, 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?"
– Benjamin Franklin

In 1774 Paul Revere used a version of Franklin's cartoon protesting Great Britain's enacting of the Stamp Act to unify the colonies in opposition to unfair taxation. Revere's version appeared in The Massachusetts Spy newspaper along with several other newspaper publications.

In the fall of 1775 the British had occupied Boston and the young Constitutional Army were surrounded in Cambridge running so low on gun powder that they where ordered "Not to fire until you see the whites of their eyes."

The Second Continental Congress received word that the British Government was sending ship loaded with arms and gun powder. This was the opportunity the troops need. The Continental Navy with five companies of Marines went to ambush the British ships.

Many of the Marines were carrying yellow drums with the snake and the motto "Don't Tread on Me" painted on them.

Christopher Gadsden (1724-1805) led the Sons of Liberty in South Carolina starting in 1765 and later was made a colonel in the Continental Army and has been credited with the yellow flag with the timber rattlesnake coiled ready to strike and the motto "Don't Tread on Me" written below the snake.

Gadsden Flag is loaded with symbolism 1) The timber snake is unique to America serving as image as a separate from the old world; England. 2) The rattlesnake has sharp eyes is an emblem of vigilance. 3) The timber snake never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders. 4) There are thirteen rattles in the tail representing the thirteen colonies. and 5) the rattlesnake never seeks conflict but has no issues violently defending itself.

The flag has seen many conflicts and was hoisted on the USS Alfred and used by Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones and was also the first flag of the Untied States Marines. The design was also considered one of the first flags to represent the United States until it was replaced by the current Red, White, and Blue flag we have now.

Unfortunately the flag has also been associated with racism for those that don't understand history. Those looking for a scape goat, liberals, accurately point out that Gadsden owned slaves. While this is true the flag was not a personal coat of arms or a slave trading logo.

The far left also ties the flag to Trump supporters as the flag was seen at Trump rallies and the Democrat coined "insurrection" of January 6th, 2021.


When COVID hit in 2019 it truly tested our country. Like in the early days of 911 America dropped party lines and stood united. We shut down our businesses, wore masks, social distanced, and lookout for each other.

However, that did not last long as those in high power saw opportunities to take advantage of the situation and turn patriotism into tyranny. We witnessed our leaders and media outlets put us at war with each other. Breaking us into smaller more manageable groups by; political party, race, vaxed, unvaxed, mask, non masks, and so on. In 2020 we watched our government leaders tell police to stand down as rioters burned down our cities. For the first time we watched as our government worked to create a class system in which all the good servants that followed the rules could eat in restaurants and attend other social events and those who where unvaxed could not.

As an apparel designer the symbolism of the Gadsden flag resonates with me and I had to add the design to our line of clothing products.

The goal of my design was to keep the original symbolism but also make the image more animated, angry, and violent. The snake still has three coils and thirteen rattles. The motto "Don't Tread on Me" is written on the shed skin of the snake. This represents the ever changing and adapting snake.

As a huge Metallica fan you will also see a nod to the song Don't Tread on Me, across the back the lyrics where added "Liberty or Death, We so Proudly Hail!".

On the shoulder is the American flag with more lyrics "To Secure Peace, Prepare for War!"

On the front of the shirt you see a similarity with the cover of the Black album, as the snake sits at the lower left corner of the shirt. I played with other spots to put the snake on the front but this made the most sense as it represents the snake on the ground ready to strike at anyone whom dares step on it.

When you wear this shirt you are defending the second amendment, showing your patriotism, rebelling against government tranny, oppression, over taxation, and wasteful spending. Purchase this shirt and remind the elites there are more of us then them. Show those that are trying to push their socialist and communism propaganda that we will fight if forced too.

Most important stay outlaw; be rebellious questioning everything, be relentlessness in your passions, and repentless about defending liberty!

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