This bill is supported by a bi-partisan effort but there are some who do not like it because people associated with the TEA Party often use the Gadsden flag at their events or they display it on a bumper sticker. Most of the opposition came from a representative who asked several members on the house floor if they were members of the TEA Party. The representative was against the license plates because the TEA Party uses the flag; that it. She basically said the flag is offensive and that the rattlesnake on the flag sends the wrong message. If the license plate was to have the words TEA Party on it or some other symbol that is exclusive to the TEA Party, then I would totally see her point but to be against such an important piece of American history directly related to our struggle for liberty simply because you don't like the people that identify with it not something that I can agree with.
I inquired of the lady on the house floor and she confirmed that she doesn't have a problem with the bears on our state flag. I told the lady that I am a proud supporter of the TEA Party because I believe Thomas Jefferson was right when he said "Resistance to government is so valuable on occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive." I am inclined to support anyone who is for limited, accountable and financially responsible government. I identify with the message that governments are instituted to protect our rights and this is the message TEA Parties I am familiar with promote. Yes, I am likely to be a proud supporter of any organization that promotes the protection of our freedom and sound financial principles no matter what they are called.
The preservation of liberty was the idea behind the Gadsden flag and I think every American can appreciate a special license plate that reflects those values although some of them may or may not agree with the TEA Parties.
About the Gadsden Flag from my book, Don't Tread On Me © 2009
DON’T TREAD ON ME! In other words, and in another time, its meaning was unmistakable: “Leave me alone, or else!” It was a popular phrase in the early days of America’s war for independence and it is most famous for the yellow flag on which it was written just underneath a picture of a rattlesnake. A decade prior to America’s Declaration of Independence, there were several patriot groups which worked fervently for the protection of the people’s individual rights. Among these were groups such as The Sons of Liberty, whose South Carolina group was led by a man named Christopher Gadsden, a Colonel who served in the Continental Army. It was Colonel Gadsden who presented this flag to Esek Hopkins, the Commander-in-Chief of America’s new navy, for him to use as his personal standard. Colonel Gadsden also presented this flag to the State Legislature of South Carolina in Charleston. The record of this presentation is recorded in the South Carolina Congressional Journals:
"Col. Gadsden presented to the Congress an elegant standard, such as is to be used by the commander in chief of the American navy; being a yellow field, with a lively representation of a rattle-snake in the middle, in the attitude of going to strike, and these words underneath, “Don’t Tread on Me!”
The Gadsden flag began to gain popularity among the Americans maybe because it almost perfectly symbolized the American patriot. Before too long, this particular symbol and others like it could be seen flying over buildings or painted on signs. In December of 1775, an anonymous letter was written to the Pennsylvania Journal in which the author signed his name as “American Guesser.” There are many scholars who attribute this pen name to none other than Benjamin Franklin. This letter was written after the Revolution began but before the Declaration of Independence was signed, and it provides the reader with a unique perspective of the symbolism behind the rattlesnake. The writer of the letter began by saying :
“ I observed on one of the drums belonging to the marines now raising, there was painted a Rattle- Snake, with this modest motto underit, ‘Don’t tread on me.’ As I know it is the custom to have some device on the arms of every country, I supposed this may have been intended for the arms of America…I sat down to guess what could have been intended by this uncommon device…”
The writer of this letter found it appropriate that the rattlesnake be identified with the American patriot as he stated, “it occurred to me that the Rattle-Snake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America.” The American patriot was constantly on guard, maintaining a keen situational awareness and therefore the rattlesnake, with its sharp eyes, “May be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.” Neither the rattlesnake nor the American patriot ever strikes until they have “generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.” Another interesting point, and one that has to do entirely with the subject of this book is the opinion formed by the observant eye of the author of this letter when he stated, “I confess I was wholly at a loss what to make of the rattles, ‘till I went back and counted them and found them just thirteen, exactly the number of the Colonies united in America…Tis curious and amazing to observe how distinct and independent of each other the rattles of this animal are, and yet how firmly they are united together.”
The Gadsden flag is, to this day, still used by the United States Navy and it flies over America’s oldest commissioned United States Naval ship, appropriately name by George Washington, the USS Constitution.