Behind the Americana: Don’t Tread on Me

Behind the Americana: Don’t Tread on Me

The phrase “Don’t Tread On Me” has deep and profound roots in American history and culture. The most recognizable form of the phrase is on the Gadsden flag (also less commonly known as the Hopkins flag), one of the many transitions of the American flag before the modern-day stars and stripes. It’s a yellow flag with a rattlesnake emblazoned in the middle, ready to strike, with those four words written underneath the snake. That flag represents a time in America when freedom wasn’t already established; this flag was used when the colonies were fighting during the American Revolution, and the design was also painted on drums in the battlefield, with thirteen rattles on the snake’s tail, one for each of the thirteen American colonies.

Republican Coffee Don't Tread on Me

 This phrase has also signified the unmistakable ferocity of our military, being embraced by the Navy on the “First Navy Jack” flag, a red and white striped flag with thirteen stripes, an uncoiled rattlesnake and the phrase, “Don’t Tread On Me.” Naval officers wear a patch with this “First Navy Jack” flag on the left shoulder of their uniforms.

Republican Coffee Naval Jack Flag

 The idea for the rattlesnake as a significant Americana figure originated with none other than Benjamin Franklin. Known for his humor and with a platform to share it in his publication, the Pennsylvania Gazette, Franklin suggested in 1751 that as a facetious “thank you” to the British, the colonies should send them rattlesnakes. The snake reappeared again in 1754, when Franklin created the first political cartoon in history: a rattlesnake that had been cut into eight pieces (signifying each of the colonies, only eight at the time), and the phrase “Join, or Die” underneath it. The phrase gave a nod to an old wives’ tale at the time that said a snake would come back to life if the cut-up pieces were joined back together by sunset on the same day. It was intended to signify the importance of the colonies banding together, but it went beyond that when America went to war.

Republican Coffee Join or Die Flag


The rattlesnake was modified from Franklin’s political cartoon, and it became a symbol of America’s unwillingness to back down against Great Britain or anyone else who came across them.

 Today, “Don't Tread On Me” continues to resonate with military members and civilians alike; in the face of terrorism and tragedy. Now you can enjoy the Americana symbol and all it represents when enjoying Republican Coffee with a “Don’t Tread On Me” bag!

The Don't Tread On Me roast makes a great gift for Republicans on your list, especially military veterans who appreciate the strength in the face of opposition message captured by the symbolism! 

Order your Don't Tread On Me roast here!

 (Information Sources:,