|The Stars and Stripes and|
Scottish (St Andrew) saltire,
the blue in the Union Jack.
This can be shown through six groups of stories associated with the Scottish flag and the Stars and Stripes.
1. Why Does Scotland Venerate St Andrew?
Scotland's flag is the cross of St Andrew, a white-on-blue saltire, i.e., a white X on a blue background.
|St Andrew is martyred|
in Greece. X=Ch[rist]
He was the first Apostle and brother of Peter. By legend, he was crucified for his preaching of the Christian message. He requested that the Romans who arrested him in Greece crucify him on a diagonal cross. He is said to have wished to die representing the first letter of Christ's name in Greek, Chi (X). Another legend is that out of humility he did not want to be crucified on the same kind of cross as Christ.
St Andrew was made patron saint of Scotland in AD 832 when, again by legend, King Óengus II of Scotland had a dream the night before a battle. The Scots and Picts were encamped facing the Angles under Æthelstan. St Andrew appeared promising victory to the Scots if Óengus promised to make Andrew Scotland's patron saint. The next morning, a white X cloud covered the blue sky. Awed, Óengus made his promise... and the Scots won the day.
|Spooky! St Andrew's Cross over|
Sebastian, Florida. So what battle will be
this time? Photo by JT Marlin.
The Scottish flag symbolizes what Óengus saw in the sky in 832, namely the white X cloud on a blue sky.
2. Why Was the St Andrew Saltire Added to the St George Cross in 1707?
The Union Jack was born in 1707 by the addition of the St Andrew saltire to the original English flag, the cross of St George, patron saint of England. The origins of this flag are said to be the arms of the crusaders, starting in the 11th century.
|English flag – St|
The flags of St George and St Andrew were combined when Scotland was formally united with England. Their unity in 1603-1625 had been through the person of James I England, aka James VI of Scotland. The unity did not outlast his death.
The official British Parliamentary history says the deal put together in 1706 traded a promise from Scotland to accept the Hanoverian dynasty for England's promise to open colonial markets to Scotland.
|Combined crosses of Sts|
George and Andrew; the
first Union Jack.
3. Why Did the American Colonies Use the East India Company Flag in 1775?
The Grand Union and "Cambridge" flag first raised to represent the 13 colonies in December 1775 were identical to the East India Company flag. They had seven red stripes and six white stripes, as noted in a 1937 exegesis by Sir Charles Fawcett, with the England-Scotland Union Jack in the canton (the upper left corner).
Evidence of the use of the Union Jack by the East India Company is in six paintings dated about 1732–numbers 36, 37, 40, 45, 46 and 48 in the Military Committee Room, #197, at the India Office in London (as sourced in Fawcett).
|The Red Ensign, widely|
available in the colonies.
The Grand Union flag was displayed in the American War of Independence as a symbol of the union of the 13 colonies, not a symbol of rebellion against the Crown. It is known to have been flown by Lieutenant Paul Jones on the Alfred, the flagship of the Congress Navy, on December 3, 1775. Within a month, on January 1 or 2, 1776 General George Washington raised this flag upon assuming command of the united forces of the 13 colonies at Cambridge, Massachusetts; hence it is also called the "Cambridge Flag".
|The "Cambridge Flag", identical to the|
East India and Grand Union Flag, 1775.
Unquestionably, this flag is the origin of the stripes in the Stars and Stripes. But what about the canton? What changed in 1776 was only the canton.
4. In What Way Was the Abbot of Arbroath Abbey Jefferson's Forerunner?
Thomas Jefferson's mother, Jane Randolph, was Scottish. He didn't write the Declaration of Independence in a vacuum. His role model was the the Abbot of Arbroath Abbey.
In 1320, the Abbot prepared the Scottish Declaration of Independence. It was during the time of King Robert the Bruce, in the form of a letter to the Pope (John XXII). The Abbot was supported by 39 nobles, the antecedents of the Signers of the American Declaration in 1776. Belief in Scottish independence from England and from the Pope is why William ("Braveheart") Wallace rebelled in 1297 and why the Douglas family fought against Edward II and III.
The Pope temporarily accepted the Arbroath request, perhaps hoping for a contingent of Scottish knights to support another Crusade, and meanwhile asked Edward II to make peace with the Scots.
|Douglas (L) and Moray coats of arms.|
The Good Sir James Douglas was
called "Black Douglas" in England.
The Douglas-Moray team's strategy was to engage in a "secret war"– what we would call a guerrilla war against the numerically superior English troops.
The wars between England and Scotland are amply documented. Yet nowhere have I found any explanation for the use of the stars in the shields of the Douglas and Moray families – and maybe there is none to find. But it could refer to the "secret war" and the fact that the troops operated under the cover of darkness. In Scottish heraldry, stars can be stars. In the Highlands, the stars are easy to see. The stars do not have to be mullets – i.e., spur-revels on the heel of a knight – unless they are pierced.
Thanks to its secret warfare, Scotland prevailed against Edward II. After he died, regents for young Edward III in his name renounced English claims to Scotland, via the treaty of 1328. The military prowess of Douglas and Moray became famous and would have been known to many Americans.
|Coat of arms of the Coldstream Guards,|
southeast Scotland. Note stars on azure (blue)
and vert (green). Motto: "Second to None."
In addition, when Washington was a Colonel in the French and Indian wars, he served under Scottish General Edward Braddock.
As Gen. Braddock was dying, after the costly but tide-turning battle for Fort Duquesne (in the area that is now Pittsburgh), he gave his red sash to Col. Washington, the only senior officer who survived the battle. For the rest of his life, Washington proudly wore Braddock's sash on formal occasions and in portraits of him that were painted long after the Revolutionary War.
George Washington would also have been aware of the white stars on blue and green fields of Scotland's Coldstream Guards – because General Braddock was a Coldstreamer.
5. Influence of Scotsmen on the Declaration of Independence, 1776
As mentioned, the American Declaration of Independence was modeled on the 1320 Scottish Declaration of Independence that asserted Scotland's position as an independent kingdom against the Pope's recognition in 1305 of the claim of Edward I to rule over of Scotland:
[A]s long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honors that we are fighting, but for freedom. (Translated from the Latin by Sir James Fergusson. Italics added.)Not only was Thomas Jefferson's mother, Jane Randolph, of Scottish ancestry but as a child, Jefferson was strongly influenced by the teachings of his tutor, a Scottish clergyman named... Douglass.
At least one-third of the signers of the American Declaration of Independence were of Scottish origin.
The American Constitution was subsequently written, largely by people with Scottish ancestry, and was modeled on the constitution of the Scottish Kirk (the Presbyterian Church).
6. The New American Flag, 1776
|Washington shield (L) with red stars and stripes and the|
U.S. Stars (white on blue) and Stripes shield at Sulgrave
Manor, Oxfordshire, UK.
The red stripes were fine, and the fact that there were 13 worked well with the fact that there were 13 colonies. All Congress had to do was change the canton.
Gen. George Washington presented a new flag to the Congress, substituting 13 white stars on a blue background for the Union Jack. So the Stars and Stripes flag was created by resolution of June 14, 1777. Washington explained to Congress that the white stars represented "a new constellation".
The Douglas Stars or Mullets
Where did the stars come from? My theory is that fans of Scotland and of George Washington played a big part. The stars may have originated on the Scottish side of the border, as the shields of the Douglas and Moray families, who were most responsible for Robert the Bruce's military victories, the men who were innovators of the "secret [guerrilla] war"–Douglas and Moray. Both have white stars on a blue background (azure, stars argent in Scottish heraldic language). The blue likely came from the blue in the St. Andrew's saltire, which in turn represents the sky in Óengus's vision of the St. Andrew's cross.
Why would the Washington family have adopted the arms of "Black" Douglas, as he was called on the English side of the border? Because he was viewed with respect, and by changing the tincture from azure to gules, blue to red, the association with the English side was maintained. Changing the blue of the Douglas and Moray arms to red would Anglicize the Scottish arms while honoring Douglas. It's a theory.
From Douglas to Washington – The Battle of Crécy
The origin of the five-pointed gules (red) mullets (stars) in the Washington coat of arms seems to be the historic Battle of Crécy (August 26, 1346), in Normandy. Edward III had successfully campaigned in Scotland and having established his rule there he claimed the throne of France as well. His victory at Crécy appeared to augur success. By that time, at any rate, the Scottish and English were not actively fighting.
|Washington's ancestors lived near Newcastle, just 100|
miles south of Edinburgh. The family coat of arms appears
in a stained glass window in the chapel of Selby Abbey,
south of York.
Records suggest that Edward III in 1346 awarded arms with three red stars and stripes (gules mullets and bars in English heraldry) to Washington ancestor Sir William De Wessyngton (or De Wessington), at the same time as the king awarded his son Edward (the "Black Prince") his knight's spurs. By that time, Scotland was no longer at war with England and it would not have been surprising for Edward III to acknowledge the battle skills of the Scottish soldiers who were now part of his army by awarding an officer from Durham a red (for the cross of St. George) version of the Douglas arms.
From the Washington Family to the Stars and Stripes
So how did George Washington's ancestral coat of arms, which were three red mullets/ stars in chief above two white and two red stripes, play in the decision to use the stars in the American flag?
In a late-19th century play at the time fo the centennial of the Declaration of Independence, the character of Benjamin Franklin says that Washington's supporters (not Washington himself) advocated using stars along with the stripes in honor of Washington. Washington's ancestors were from just outside of what is now Newcastle, in northern England, near the border with Scotland–just 100 miles from Edinburgh.
It was a small step in 1776 to put 13 white-on-blue stars in the canton of the Grand Union Flag, to pay homage to General George Washington and generate the Stars and Stripes. Forever.
Formally, the stars were proposed by General Washington to the Congress as signifying "a new constellation". But they also were reminders to the colonies of Scotland's history of both unity and independence:
- unity in 1775 through the combination of the St. Andrew's saltire with the St. George's cross nearly 70 years before. Unity among themselves is what the colonists were seeking in 1775.
- independence in 1777 because the stars were reminders of the long wars of independence by gallant and resourceful Scots.