The Star of David, Betsy Ross, and the American Flag (Part I. The Myth)

Here are three separate sources that reiterate the famous legend about Betsy Ross meeting with, and then convincing, George Washington to use five-pointed pentagrams rather than six-pointed hexagrams in the original ‘Stars and Stripes’ American flag.

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Some Examples of Historical U.S.Flags with Six-Pointed Stars (of David)

While this makes for a great story, it has been proven false numerous times by professional historians. Even so, many Americans today still think this story is historical fact, rather than a myth. Here are three versions of the Betsy Ross legend:

 

THE MYTH VERSION #1) Back in 1776, George Washington wanted the states to be represented on a new American flag by six-pointed stars resembling the Star of David. Betsy Ross, however, recommended a five-pointed star. The committee in charge of the final flag design thought Betsy’s stars would be too difficult to make, but she proved them wrong. She won over the committee when she folded a piece of paper and, with a single snip of her scissors, produced the perfect five- pointed star we use today. (Betsy’s Ross’s Secret, by Dennis Randall, Fun.familyeducation.com)

THE MYTH VERSION #2) In June of 1776, George Washington, who was a frequent visitor of Betsy Ross’ shop in Philadelphia, came to Betsy with a congressional committee comprised of himself, Robert Morris, and Col. George Ross (a relative of Betsy’s late husband). The committee appointed Betsy the task of sewing a flag based on a rough drawing by Col. Ross. She offered various suggestions for improvement, including making the flag more symmetrical and using five pointed stars instead of six pointed. They accepted her suggestions, and she made the first American flag. .(The Betsy Ross Story, The First American Flag (Betsy Ross Flag), United-States-Flag.com)

THE MYTH VERSION #3) Betsy and Washington thought the stars should be arranged in an orderly fashion, in straight lines or a circle. They decided there should be 13 stars to match the number of stripes.

Betsy Ross: ‘And five-pointed stars would look better than the six-pointed ones you have here.’
George Washington: ‘But five-pointed stars are hard to make. And 13 would take too much time. We need the flag right away.’
Betsy Ross: ‘If you will sir, let me show you how I can make a perfect five-pointed star. I can do it with a single snip of my scissors.’ [Betsy showed Washington just how talented she was. She made several folds in a piece of paper. Then…(Snip!)]
George Washington: ‘Amazing!’

The three men were impressed with Betsy’s ideas and skill.. they gave her the job of making the first American flag. (Betsy Ross and the American Flag, by Kay M. Olson, Googles Books)

 

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Various Historical U.S. Flags with Six-Pointed Stars (of David)

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