Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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June 3rd
Betsy Ross
Tradition says that the first Stars and Stripes flag was the work of Betsy Ross, an upholsterer living in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. About June 1776, the 24-yearold widow was  working in her shop on Arch Street when three gentlemen called. One was George Washington, commander in chief of the Continental Army. The other two were George Ross, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and uncle of Betsy’s deceased husband, and Robert Morris, also a signer of the Declaration.

Washington produced a rough sketch of a flag with thirteen red and white stripes and thirteen six-pointed stars, and asked Betsy if she could make a banner with that design. “I do not know, but I will try,” she reportedly answered, and then suggested changing the stars to five points rather than six. She picked up a piece of cloth, folded it a few times, made one snip with her scissors, and out came a perfect five-point star. The men agreed to the change, and patriot Betsy Ross began the work of stitching together the first Stars and Stripes.

Betsy Ross’s grandson William Canby first made this story public in 1870. Betsy was clearly an upholsterer living in Philadelphia during the Revolution, and records show that she made flags for
the Pennsylvania navy. But historians question the tale of Washington’s visit and her making the first American flag since they can find no evidence to back it up. Nevertheless, generations of Americans have loved the legend, and Betsy is fondly regarded as the mother of our flag.

American History Parade
Gaspar de Portola and Junipera Serra officiate at the founding of a mission at Monterey, California.

Union forces gain a victory at Philippi, West Virginia, in the first land battle of the Civil War.

Seven thousand Union troops are shot down at Cold Harbor, Virginia, on one of the bloodiest days of the Civil War.

In Washington, D.C., Alexander Graham Bell sends the first wireless telephone message on his newly invented photophone.

Louis Brandeis, first Jewish member of the Supreme Court, is sworn in.

Edward White of Gemini 4 becomes the first American to take a space walk.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb

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