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The first Naval Jack of the United States-before January 8, 1776-June 14, 1777

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Published on Apr 13, 2010

More info: In 1778, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to the Ambassador of Naples, thanking him for allowing entry of American ships into Sicilian ports. The letter describes the American flag according to the 1777 Flag Resolution, but also describes a flag of "South Carolina, a rattlesnake, in the middle of the thirteen stripes."The rattlesnake had long been a symbol of resistance to the British in Colonial America. The phrase "Don't tread on me" was coined during the American Revolutionary War, a variant perhaps of the snake severed in segments labelled with the names of the colonies and the legend "Join, or Die" which had appeared first in Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754, as a political cartoon reflecting on the Albany Congress.
The rattlesnake (specifically, the Timber Rattlesnake) is especially significant and symbolic to the American Revolution. The rattle has thirteen layers, signifying the original Thirteen Colonies. And, the snake does not strike until provoked, a quality echoed by the phrase "Don't tread on me." For more on the origin of the rattlesnake emblem, see the Gadsden flag.The First Navy Jack was first used in recent history during the Bicentennial year, 1976, when all commissioned naval vessels were directed to fly it for the entire year, in lieu of the standard fifty-star jack.

In 1980, Edward Hidalgo, the Secretary of the Navy, directed that the ship with the longest active status shall display the First Navy Jack until decommissioned or transferred to inactive service. Then the flag will be passed to the next ship in line. This honor was conferred on the following U.S. Navy vessels:19811982: Destroyer tender USS Dixie (AD-14), commissioned 1940
19821993: Destroyer tender USS Prairie (AD-15), commissioned 1940
19931993: Submarine tender USS Orion (AS-18), commissioned 1943
19931995: Repair Ship USS Jason (AR-8), commissioned 1944
19951995: Ammunition ship USS Mauna Kea (AE-22), commissioned 1957
19951998: Aircraft carrier USS Independence (CV-62), commissioned 1959
19982009: Aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), commissioned in 1961
2009-present: Aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65), commissioned 1961

Like other snake flags, the Navy Jack has been used as a sign of protest. Opponents to a smoking ban in Franklin, Indiana fly Navy Jacks outside their homes and businesses.

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