David McCullough

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on 1776 makes teaching easy.

The Continental Flag Symbol Analysis

The Continental Flag Symbol Icon

There are few overt symbols in 1776. One exception, however, is the flag of the Continental Army, which George Washington unfurls toward the end of 1775 while his troops are camped outside of Boston. The flag, which features thirteen red and white stripes symbolizing the thirteen American colonies, is very similar to the flag of the United States of America (which won’t appear until 1777). In this sense, the Continental Army flag symbolizes the growing cultural unity of the American army and American society in general. In late 1775, the American army is still a disorganized and untrained group of soldiers from different colonies, but it’s gradually becoming a singular, unified force, bound together by a common ideology of freedom, self-sufficiency, and meritocracy.

Get the entire 1776 LitChart as a printable PDF.
1776 PDF

The Continental Flag Symbol Timeline in 1776

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Continental Flag appears in 1776. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Rabble in Arms
Idealism vs. Practicality Theme Icon
...a “Continental Army,” uniting people of many colonies under one cause. He displays a new flag to honor the army, with thirteen red and white stripes. When the British see it,... (full context)