3 Important Grand Union Flag Facts Every American Should Know

by      September 22, 2014

Now available from Patriot Wood: Grand Union Wood Flag

A replica of the Grand Union flag was recently added to PatriotWood.com. While the Grand Union is known as the very first national flag of the United States, we’d like to think that the Patriot Wood version looks better than ever—but we’ll let you be the judge.

We make flags all the time, but it’s not just about creating awesome wood flags—it’s also about recognizing important pieces of history and the stories they tell. A flag becomes more meaningful when you know a little about it.

So, we pulled together three important facts about the Grand Union Flag. Here they are!

Grand Union wood flag / wall art from Patriot Wood

 

Three important facts about the Grand Union flag

1.) The Grand Union is the United States’ first national flag

The Grand Union flag was created during the first year of the Revolutionary War. The designer and exact date of creation are unknown, but it is credited as the first national flag of the United States. It was an important signal that indicated increasing separation from the British.

2.) The Grand Union flag has five names

Over the years, this flag has been referred to in lots of different ways. Five names have stuck with it over time—here they are.

  • The Grand Union—this name originated during the United States’ Reconstruction Era. It was first applied to this flag by George Preble, in 1872. Since then, it has become the most popular name.
  • The Continental Colors—at the time, the United States was known as the United Colonies of North America. This name is likely a nod to that.
  • The Congress Flag—the Continental Congress met under this flag; that’s probably the origin of this name.
  • The First Navy Ensign—in December of 1775, a lieutenant in the newly formed Continental Navy raised the flag on the colonial warship USS Alfred, earning it yet another name.
  • The Cambridge Flag—it’s said that George Washington’s troops raised this flag near Cambridge, Massachusetts, on New Year’s Eve in 1776, spawning another moniker in the process.

3.) The Grand Union is a modified British flag

During the first year of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress had to create a flag to represent their military, government, and new nation. They were quite familiar with the British Red Ensign, a flag flown by the Royal Navy—and they probably had access to lots of these flags.

Turning a Red Ensign into a Grand Union was quite simple: simply sew six white stripes onto the red background to create the 13 alternating red and white stripes we’re all familiar with.

This practice didn’t last too long: the field in the top left was soon replaced with stars, and the Stars and Stripes as we know it was born.

Keep learning about the Grand Union flag

The History of the Star-Spangled Banner

The Grand Union flag is an important part of history. Wondering how the American flag evolved from that design to the flag we have today?

Get Patriot Wood’s free guide to the Star-Spangled Banner to learn more about America’s Stars and Stripes and see where the Grand Union fits in.

Get your free ebook today!