One of the first flags of the U.S.:
In fall 1775, the U.S. 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 that enlisted were from Philadelphia and they carried drums painted yellow, depicting a coiled rattlesnake with thirteen rattles, and the motto “Dont Tread On Me.” This was the first mention of the Gadsden flag’s symbolism.
At the Congress, Continental Colonel Christopher Gadsden was representing his home state of South Carolina. He was one of three members of the Marine Committee who were outfitting the first naval mission. It is unclear whether Gadsden took his inspiration from the Marine’s drums, or if he inspired them himself.