Betsy Ross: Stitching America Together

Before fashion was the “it” thing for women to sew, Betsy Ross proved that flag design was far more challenging. A through and through early American, Ross was born Elizabeth Griscom in Philadelphia, arguably the birthplace of the United States. Her innovation to the production of the American flag by telling the founding fathers what they already should have known–that we needed a five-sided star instead of a six-sided one–is part of what set the tone for a country that would come to represent so many different things to different people.

Betsy Ross, an ethereal spirit
Betsy Ross, an ethereal spirit
The intense implications of a flag and all that it represents was left to this individual, strong-spirited woman who was an instant patriot by virtue of having her husband, John Ross, participate in the American Revolution. He was killed in an explosion, leaving Ross briefly to widowhood before she remarried to Joseph Ashburn, who ended up being jailed in England for treason. At this point, some might say that marrying Ross invoked some sort of curse on her unwitting husband of the moment.
Flagged
Flagged
Ross married a third and final time to a man named John Claypoole, who had encountered Ashburn in the British prison and told Ross that Ashburn had passed away. It’s something of a creepy, yet somehow romantic tale. Claypoole, of course, predeceased Ross, but she continued to run a successful upholstery business in her later years.
As if these white guys would have any sort of viable opinion of the aesthetic of the American flag
As if these white guys would have any sort of viable opinion of the aesthetic of the American flag
Her ultimate accomplishment, no matter how talented a seamstress she was in general, will always be the inception of the U.S. flag–long before Jasper Johns and Lana Del Rey ever appropriated it.