Documentary Of Betsy Ross Essay

2205 words - 9 pages

Human Actuality: Elizabeth Griscom Ross My great" aunt Elizabeth Griscom Ross (Betsy Ross) is an American icon who, despite historical discounts to truism, is adopted by each generation as the seamstress of the first American flag. Her story and life strike a chord deep in the heart of America. The controversies that surround this matronly icon do not sway America from recognizing her as a symbol of freedom and patriotism. To fully understand the admiration America feels for Betsy, one must first explore her life and legend. According to Tom Huntington, Betsy Ross "was merely a Philadelphia woman who was working and trying to get on in life." America shares a closeness with this "working" class woman. Which were not all to common during the 1700s.(Schouler) She lived a life that is easily embraced by America because it is so familiar. The working class of this nation can relate to the hardships of her childhood, successes in her hard work, and losses of her loved ones. Betsy Ross is not a "legend" to Americans--she is "the mother of our great nation." (Fow 11) Born a Quaker in Philadelphia, 1752, Elizabeth Griscom grew up in a household where plain dress and strict discipline dominated her life, however, "Betsy" was not "plain" at all. She was described as having had "expressive blue eyes, delicate features, and a lively disposition." At a young age she developed a natural ability to sew and perform needlework. After she graduated from secondary school, she became an apprentice at an upholstery shop. Her remarkable skills attracted a large clientele, including General George Washington. "She embroidered his shirt ruffles and did many other things for him [even before he received command of the army]," stated William Canby, the grandson of Betsy Ross. (Furlong 116) On November 4, 1773, Betsy married fellow apprentice John Ross. "Tax records indicate that sometime before March 1775, [Betsy and John] opened [their] own small upholstery shop [inside their home] on Arch Street," according to William Kashatus. Although their upholstery shop prospered, Betsy did not give up her seamstress work. She sewed bedclothes, shirts, and curtains in her spare time; she even sewed uniforms for soldiers that were "camped out" in her living room during the war. (Wallner 19) Betsy's new life was soon struck by hardship. John joined the American Revolutionary War, and in January of 1776, he died in battle. Betsy remarried on June 15, 1777, and in November of 1780, the American Revolution claimed the life of her new husband. When she remarried in May of 1783, she told her husband that he must quit privateering and remain at home. (Moulton) The connection that Americans experience with Betsy extends beyond the life she lived. Each year 250,000 Americans visit 239 Arch Street in Philadelphia. Betsy's house has been named "The Flag House." The attachment with the birthplace of the first American flag began in 1870 with a speech...

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