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Happy Birthday to Betsy Ross

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Born in Pennsylvania on January 1, 1752, Betsy Ross was the eighth child of seventeen where she grew up under the rule of strict Quaker traditions and learned to sew from her great-aunt Sarah Elizabeth Ann Griscom. In 1773, when Ross was 21, she married an upholsterer named William Webster -- member of the Episcopal Christ Church, in Gloucester, New Jersey. The marriage caused a rift in her relationship with her family, causing Ross to be excommunicated from the Quaker congregation. The couple began their own upholstery business and Ross joined the Christ Church where fellow congregants included George Washington.

When the American Revolutionary War broke out, Betsy worked as a tailor and expert repairer, sewing uniforms, making tents, blankets and musket cartridges. Betsy Ross would go on to marry three times before her death in 1836 at the age of 84. Called upon by George Washington himself, Ross, amongst other master seamstresses, contributed flags as an act of patriotism. Credited with making the ‘First American Flag’, Ross changed the early six-pointed star to an easier to sew five-pointed star.

In 2008, The Star-Spangled Banner: Making of an American Icon, Smithsonian experts promoted Ross as a patriotic role model for young girls and declared her a symbol of women’s contributions to early American history.

Fun facts:

  • Betsy Ross had five daughters.
  • On January 1, 1952 the U.S. Post office issued a stamp to honor the 200th anniversary of her birth.
  • Betsy Ross has a bridge named in her honor that connects Philadelphia with New Jersey.

Read more about Betsy Ross on Biography.

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