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Betsy Ross, born Elizabeth Griscom, was an American seamstress who, according to stories passed on from generation to generation, was credited for designing the first flag of the United States.
See the fact file below for more information on the Betsy Ross or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Betsy Ross worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE, FAMILY, AND EDUCATION
- Betsy Ross was born Elizabeth Griscom on January 1, 1752 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- She was born the eighth of seventeen children of Samuel Griscom and Rebecca James Griscom.
- The Griscom family had firm Quaker roots.
- Her great-grandfather, Andrew Griscom was a Quaker who emigrated in 1680 from England to New Jersey.
- Andrew Griscom was a respected carpenter. His name can be found inscribed in the Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia.
- Betsy’s father, Samuel, helped in the construction of the bell tower at the Pennsylvania State House.
- His mother, Rebecca, came from a well-known Quaker family.
- Betsy grew up in a home where Quaker beliefs and discipline were strictly enforced.
- She also received Quaker education at a Quaker state-run school, where she learned how to write, read, and acquire technical skills, particularly sewing.
- Once she completed her schooling, she began to apprentice to an upholsterer in town named William Webster.
- During that time, the job of an upholsterer included sewing.
MEETING JOHN ROSS
- During her apprenticeship, Betsy met John Ross, the son of an Episcopal priest, and fell in love with him.
- Quakers did not approve of marrying people from other denominations, so the couple eloped in 1773.
- They married in Gloucester City, New Jersey.
- Consequently, Betsy was expelled from the Quaker congregation and her family.
- From being apprentices, Betsy and John started their own upholstery business.
- They had no children.
- After being expelled from the Quaker community, Betsy joined Christ Church, John’s congregation.
- One of their fellow congregants was George Washington, who at the time just became America’s commander in chief.
- Betsy and John had only been married for a couple of years before the American Revolutionary War broke out.
- John joined the provincial militia of Pennsylvania and died in 1775.
- After becoming widowed, Betsy continued working in their upholstery business.
- She made and repaired upholstery for the Continental Army, such as uniforms, blankets, and tents. She also sewed paper tube cartridges for prepared packaged ammunition.
- She also remarried twice after John Ross died, and had two daughters with her second husband Joseph Ashburn, and five daughters with her third husband John Claypoole.
MAKING OF THE AMERICAN FLAG
- Back in the day, upholsterers were the ones who usually made flags.
- Despite disputes against Betsy Ross having made the American flag, oral history points to that story being true.
- According to Betsy, she met with George Washington, George Ross, and Robert Morris in late May or early June of 1776.
- The Flag Committee of the Continental Congress hired Betsy to sew the first American flag.
- While there are many oral accounts that exist about this, no actual flag created by Betsy Ross has been found.
THE BETSY ROSS DESIGN
- There may be no consensus about the design of the first American flag, but according to legend, the most important elements are the stars, the stripes, the circle, and the colors.
- Betsy Ross used five-pointed stars instead of six-pointed ones.
- The stars were in a circle so that colonies would be viewed equal with one another.
- George Washington reportedly said, “Let the 13 stars in a circle stand as a new constellation in the heavens.”
- Stripes were already mainly included in American flag designs even before the design of Betsy Ross, particularly in the Sons of Liberty flag produced in 1765.
- The stripes are collectively known as the “rebellious stripes” as they were a symbol of revolutionary spirit.
- As for the colors used in the flag, Charles Thomson says it best in a his 1782 report to Congress on the Great Seal of the United States: “The colours of the pales are those used in the flag of the United States of America. White signifies purity and innocence. Red hardiness and valour and Blue the colour of the Chief signifies vigilance perseverance and justice.”
DEATH AND LEGACY
- She continued working on their upholstery business until her retirement in 1827.
- She spent her retirement years with her daughter Susannah in Abington, Pennsylvania.
- Betsy Ross died at age 84 on January 30, 1836.
- A bridge across the Delaware River linking Philadelphia and New Jersey is named the Betsy Ross Bridge.
- Biographer Marla Miller argues that Ross’ legacy should not be about a single flag, but rather because of what her story tells us about working women and men during the American Revolution.
- To commemorate her birth anniversary, the U.S. Post Office issued a Betsy Ross 200th Anniversary postage stamp on January 1, 1952.
Betsy Ross Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Betsy Ross across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Betsy Ross worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Betsy Ross, born Elizabeth Griscom, who was an American seamstress who, according to stories passed on from generation to generation, was credited for designing the first flag of the United States.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Betsy Ross Facts
- A Life in Words
- Relation Blanks
- Timeline of Events
- The Betsy Ross Design
- Flag Match
- Picture Narrative
- Flag on Display
- Alternate Theories
- Flag Redesign
- Flags of the World
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Link will appear as Betsy Ross Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 31, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.