So who designed the flag? In 1776 you couldn’t go into a store and buy a flag off the rack. Back then, flags were made in one of two ways. Since most Flags had a naval use, you could go to a ships chandlery - a store that outfitted ships - and the chandler would contract with a sail maker or in many cases an upholsterer to make the flag. An upholster in colonial times had more functions that what we typically think of today. Besides working on furniture, they also made flags and other military equipment. This is where the legend of Betsy Ross comes in to play.
We know that Betsy Ross was an upholsterer who made flags for the Pennsylvania Navy. What we don’t know is did she really design the first flag? There is a great deal of controversy about this.
In 1870, Betty Ross’ Grandson was addressing an Historic society in Philadelphia and said that his grandmother told him that she met with George Washington and others and she designed the flag. But did she design it or did Francis Hopkinson design it?
Francis Hopkinson was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence from the state of New Jersey. The only evidence of who made the flag is a bill that was submitted to congress by Francis Hopkinson that said for designing the flag, you owe me two casks of ale. What we don’t have is a picture of that flag, a written description of the flag, or even a sketch of the flag. So, the mystery remains.