The phrase ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ was a phrase on the Gadsden Flag. To better understand this, let’s take a little history lesson.
The Gadsden Flag was a flag from the earlier part of American history, named after American General Christopher Gadsden. It was bright yellow with an image of a rattlesnake on it, and the words ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ were below the snake. The main principle of the flag was unity.
In an original drawing by Benjamin Franklin (which was the country’s first political cartoon), the rattlesnake was cut into pieces, each symbolizing the original colonies, and had the words ‘Join or Die’ below the pieces of the snake.
“I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids—She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.—She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage.—As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shewn and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal:—Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her.—Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?” (Benjamin Franklin)
“In fall 1775, the United States Navy was established to intercept incoming British ships carrying war supplies to the British troops in the colonies. To aid in this, the Second Continental Congress authorized the mustering of five companies of Marines to accompany the Navy on their first mission. The first Marines enlisted in the city of Philadelphia and they carried drums painted yellow, depicting a coiled rattlesnake with thirteen rattles, and the motto “Don’t Tread On Me.” This is the first recorded mention of the future Gadsden flag’s symbolism.” (Wikipedia)
This flag was later replace with Old Glory.
Here is the significance of the Gadsden Flag – it meant ‘Don’t mess with us!’ It was a symbol of unity between the colonies. The rattlesnake symbolizes reputation and respect.
Of course there is more to it than that, in that a rattlesnake will fight back when threatened, even after a warning with the rattles. It keeps a sharp eye and weighs the situation carefully.
So, now you are probably asking why I chose to blend the Gadsden Flag with the topic of hemp?
It’s quite simple. Hemp has been walked on, stomped on, tread on. Hemp has been demonized by corporations and the government in the name of greed, to protect investments in oil, pharmaceuticals, timber, chemicals, and synthetics. It was given a bad reputation through ugly UNTRUE propaganda. Hemp has been ostracized through lies and deliberate misconceptions.
This wonderful plant that feeds us, houses us, clothes us, heals us…this plant that heals our environment and can create jobs and boost our economy is banned where it once flourished and was revered for it’s strength and diversity.
Those of us who believe in the power of hemp, this perfect plant that nature has given us, are uniting in the knowledge that hemp WILL be a LEGAL part of our economy again. It is through education and making our voices heard that we are taking the steps needed to allow this plant to flourish on American soil once again. Will it happen overnight? No. But that is ok. Each step takes time. But there WILL be a time when hemp will rise above…
And not be tread on any more.