The Meaning of Don’t Tread on Me Flag: What It Is and How To Use It

What is the Don’t Tread on Me flag? What is the meaning of the Don’t Tread on Me flag? This article will cover it all, from inception to current use.

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

The don’t tread on me flag has a long and complex history. This flag started as a symbol of revolution during the war for American independence from the British. Now, it is mostly associated with conservatives and extremist right-wing groups. How did this flag make such a leap? Keep reading to learn how this flag’s meaning has changed. 

What Does the Don’t Tread on Me Flag Mean?

According to Dictionary, the don’t tread on me flag is also known as the Gadsden flag. This is a yellow flag featuring a coiled rattlesnake hissing and the words “don’t tread on me” written in an all caps typeface. This flag was flown for the first time in 1775 as Americans fought for their independence from British rule.

The snake is a symbol of the United States of America before its independence. Benjamin Franklin used a rattlesnake to describe the country as one that will not back down when provoked.Therefore, Gadsden decided to use the posture of the rattlesnake — which is coiled up and ready to attack — as a defensive warning pose. 

This snake coupled with the phrase don’t tread on me warns the British not to tread on Americans, as they will not be afraid to bite back.

What Is the History of the Don’t Tread on Me Flag?

The don’t tread on me flag was invented by Christopher Gadsden, a politician and a soldier hailing from South Carolina. This flag was famously used during the American Revolution and Revolutionary War as a battle cry for liberty against Great Britain, as was the Moultrie Flag. 

However, in modern times, the don’t tread on me flag has become controversial. Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, this flag was closely associated with white conservatism and the Tea Party movement. Because many people from extremist right-wing parties are also white supremacists, this flag has been associated with racism and bigotry. Since Gadsden was an owner of slaves and a slave trader, this only supports the discontinued use of the flag, similar to the use of the Confederate flag.

People also use Colonel Christopher Gadsden’s flag to support the second amendment and gun rights for self-defense. In a Las Vegas shootout, people with a connection to Neo-Nazi groups put this flag over the bodies of murdered police officers. In another instance, a worker filed a complaint about a co-worker wearing the flag. Some modern versions of the flag include an apostrophe in the word “don’t,” while others do not.

Today, people might have this flag in their homes or wear it on a t-shirt. What was once a political cartoon and emblem of magnanimity, vigilance, and courage is now associated with criminals, harassment, racial discrimination, and racists.

What Is the American Revolution?

According to Britannica, the American Revolution was a war that occurred from the years 1775 to 1783. This is also known as the American Revolutionary War or the United States War of Independence. In this war, the North American colonies known as the United States of America won political independence from the British. 

While this war started as a civil war since the United States of America was technically a part of the British Empire, it quickly became an international war in the year 1778 when France decided to ally with the Americans against Britain. In the next year, Spain also joined in the fight against the British. The Netherlands supported the United States of America financially, as it also had a war against Britain at the time. 

Some of the most famous battles during the American Revolution include the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Battle of Monmouth, the battles of Saratoga, the Battle of Brandywine, and the Battle of Bemis Heights. Additionally, other important events of the war include the Boston Tea Party and the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776.

The event that formally ended the war occurred on September 3rd, 1783. On this day, the British signed what is known as the Peace of Paris, ended the war, and gave the United States of America its independence. 


In the aftermath of the war, the United States of America continued to expand. Today the United States of America has 50 different states that go from the east coast to the West Coast. The United States of America borders countries like Mexico and Canada. There are two states in America that are non-Continental, which include Alaska and Hawaii. Hawaii was the last state to be added to the United States of America in the year 1959.


The Gadsden flag has a storied history. This flag has been both the source of American pride and a symbol of hatred in the modern-day. While this flag started out as a symbol of revolution during the Revolutionary war, these days, it can be now associated with prejudice against Black Americans.


  1. What Does “Don’t Tread On Me” Mean? | Pop Culture by 
  2. Dates of Statehood | Order of Succession | State Symbols 
  3. American Revolution | Causes, Battles, Aftermath, & Facts | Britannica