What The Dont Tread on Me Flag Means? [The Rattlesnake Flag]

The Gadsden flag carries a great significance in the history of the United States. This flag has the reputation of being one of the earliest flags that have ever been designed in the country. The Gadsden flags are popularly known as the “Dont tread on me flags“.

What Does the Rattlesnake Symbol Mean?

So why would Gadsden make a writhing serpent the centerpiece of the flag when handing it over to Hopkins? What does the snake imply?

The Diamondback rattlesnake had long been a favorite of the patriotic citizens of America. They were fighting for the freedom of America, called the American war of independence or, more famously, the American Revolution.

Around 1751, Benjamin Franklin penned an enraged essay in the Pennsylvania Gazette, a daily paper. He was protesting the British colonial usage of the American colonies as a jail.

The English colonists had been shipping criminals and detainees to the territories, where they had caused havoc. He proposed that the inhabitants repay him with venomous snakes, especially the Diamond Rattlesnakes.

Bringing the sense of togetherness

Shortly afterwards, in 1754, the same journal published a satirical piece depicting a serpent divided into eight segments, each identified with the names of the colonies. The message “Join Or Die” was displayed in big, bold letters beneath the rattlesnake. This served as a warning to the rebels about what would occur if they did not stay together.

The serpent had grown together through 1774, the year before the battles of Lexington and Concord took place. The motto underneath it had been modified from “Join Or Die” to something else in keeping with the new grown-up snake’s solidarity.

Later on, several writers started to use the writhing diamondback rattlesnake emblem. They believed in its significance and how well it reflected the values and principles that helped shape the United States of America.

The Rattler and the Sense of Unity

Writing underneath a pseudonym, Benjamin Franklin gave his reasoning for why he thought the rattlesnake was a fitting emblem for America. He saw the rattlesnake as a metaphor of restrained ferocity; that is, a snake only attacked if it was assaulted first, and it never surrendered after being attacked.

The rattlesnake is peculiar and endemic to the United States of America, and the rattling on its tail perfectly explains why the initial American colonies revolted. The snake’s rattles produce no sound on their own, but when combined, they can be very loud for anybody in the proximity and give a chill down the spine.

For the Americans, the diamondback rattlesnake, and the eastern Diamondback or the timber rattlesnake in specific, was perhaps an essential emblem of America, at least when the American Revolution was going on. Patriots and patrons battled under the Don’t Tread On Me flags.

Curled diamondback rattlesnakes imprinted on colonial coins as well. The embryonic United States was printed in brochures and pamphlets, and articles on the writhing snake were published.

Moreover, the American leaders and politicians were familiar with the Bible and the tale of Adam and Eve. They were well aware of the snake in the garden. The fundamental truth is that picking a snake, preferably a rattlesnake, was a gift of harmony.


A rattlesnake is a unique reptile. If you come across a rattlesnake in the wilderness, it will not bite you right away. If you do not, it will attack.

Alternatively, it will produce a spine-chilling clamor that lends its reputation as a caution to leave. This feature made the colonists choose the rattlesnake as their symbol to convey to The United Kingdom that America should be left alone.