This is the Naval rendition of the American Colonial Flag in use at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. This is one of the first flags to show 13 stripes (one for each American colony). . The lack of an apostrophe in “DONT” is based on the only rendition we have of the flag during the revolution, a print made by Thomas Hart in August, 1776. That print clearly shows the word with no apostrophe. The rattle snake had become a traditional symbol of the American Colonies and the Colonial Navy adopted the sea going version of this. The most obvious reason for the snake to be the symbol of the American Colonies was that the rattlesnake was only found in the American Colonies and nowhere else in the world. The origin of the slogan (Don’t Tread On Me) pertains to the snakes deadly strike and the idea that it is best left alone. In 2002 the Secretary of the Navy directed that all U.S. Navy ships raise the historic Navy Jack and continue to do so throughout the global War on Terrorism. Our flag historian has written a history of this flag. If you would like a copy, let us know. We will be happy to email it to you by email or send by US Postal Service.