Before the Betsy Ross in the (first) War of Independence, came the Continental Colors. This flag was authorized by the Second Continental Congress of the United Colonies for use by the Continental Army, Navy and even Marines.
It was first hoisted anywhere by a young — and yet to be famous — Lt. John Paul Jones over the continental warship Alfred — earning it one of its many names, the Alfred Flag. It is also known as the Cambridge Flag, because legend has it that General Washington’s headquarters raised it for the first time during the siege of Cambridge, Massachusetts on New Year’s Day, 1776.
It was not until the Reconstruction Era that this flag was labeled the “Grand Union Flag” — an obvious piece of propaganda. While that name has stuck and is the most common one used today, we here at the Confederate Shop like to salute it’s pre-Reconstruction moniker.
The Continental Colors became obsolete with the passage of the Flag Act of 1777. With this act, the Continental Congress called for the canton of the Continental flag — based on the Union Jack of Great Britain — to be replaced with a constellation of 13 stars representing the colonies. The red and white striping used in this flag, and several others, was retained. With this change, the Continental Congress symbolically threw out the authority of the King (represented in the combined English and Scottish crosses of the Union Jack) and declared an entirely new authority, of their own making. Before this act, there were still many who hoped for a resolution to the conflict that did not break their ancestral ties to the crown.