Gadsden FlagDon't Tread on Me

The Gadsden Flag

Welcome to, my website and blog devoted entirely to the Gadsden flag, the defiant "Don't Tread on Me" symbol of American independence and freedom.

I've been a fan of the Gadsden flag for years. I started this site in 2001 for other fans and as a way to help keep the spirit of the symbol alive.

In addition to the blog on this page, there are four content areas:

  1. The fascinating history of the Gadsden flag. This is as much as I've been able to gather through extensive personal research:

  2. Recommendations on the best places I know for buying Gadsden flags and related items:

  3. Free Gadsden flag downloads and resources:

  4. Interesting usages of the Gadsden flag and Don't Tread of Me symbolism:

Do you have a "Don't Tread on Me" tattoo or have you used the flag in an interesting way? E-mail me. I'd love to see it.

Yours in liberty,

Chris Whitten
Webmaster of The Free Online Family Tree

Don't Tread on Me Flags

Gadsden flag

My top recommendation for buying Gadsden flags is FlagLine. It's a family-owned mail-order business based in Colorado. Josef, the owner, has been serving customers I've sent him from this site since 2001. He's trustworthy and he has the best prices.

Don't Tread on Me Merchandise

Gadsden flag products Larry and Patrick at the Gadsden and Culpeper American Heritage Shoppe have the widest selection of Gadsden products I've ever found: t-shirts ... hats ... license plates ... magnets .... everything.

Everything I've gotten from them is high-quality and the prices are right.

If you tell them I sent you, they'll thrown in a free "Don't Tread on Me" sticker with any purchase.

New Don’t Tread Tats

November 10th, 2012

It’s about time for our annual Gadsden tattoo update. I’ve been collecting the images that readers have e-mailed me and am finally sharing them.

The following tattoo belongs to Jessie James Marker from Saginaw, Michigan.

Jessie's Don't Tread on Me tattoo

Jessie says: “I got this tattoo to represent how I feel about our federal government. They are intruding on our daily lives more and more every month. With every piece of legislation passed, they are degrading the values of Liberty further and further. This is a reminder to anybody, including the Fed’s, to not mess with my life as long as I’m not messing with theirs.”

It’s such a little tattoo. I guess Jessie didn’t want to make too much of a statement with it.

Todd Burke is from South Jersey, near Atlantic City. (Hope you survived Hurricane Sandy OK, Todd.) This is his second tattoo:

Todd's Don't Tread on Me tattoo

I really like Todd’s tattoo. Highly original with lots of creative details. The way the snake is coming off the flag is awesome.

Todd says “I got it because it’s the original flag of the US and I feel it represents the beliefs our founding fathers fought for for our country. I also like it because today in modern times it is perceived as a rebel flag to our modern, corrupt government. ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ to me should be how the US should operate, don’t mess with us or we’ll mess you up. Similarly, if you don’t do anything to us we will leave you alone. Just like a rattlesnake.”

Stewart A. got his tattoo done by Rocky at MatSu Tattoo in Wasilla, Alaska. Now, I forget, how is that I know Wasilla? ;-)

Stewart's Don't Tread on Me tattoo

Stewart saw a similar one on our Gadsden tattoo archive but “didn’t like the cobra head, since there are no cobras in the US, and I wanted to include the 13 rattles.”

He referenced the quote attributed to Ben Franklin: “I confess I was wholly at a loss what to make of the rattles, ’till I went back and counted them and found them just thirteen, exactly the number of the Colonies united in America; and I recollected too that this was the only part … of the Snake which increased in numbers.”

For more on this see the Gadsden Flag History page.

Jeff Mitchell is from New Zealand. Here’s his colorful bit of American-inspired ink:

Jeff's Don't Tread on Me tattoo

Jeff writes, “I was fortunate enough to come across Alex Jones and many similar people (online), so I’ve known about the Gadsden Flag for years, and recently I made it a permanent part of my arm!”

This one was sent to me by 19-year-old Hayley, an active duty copy in US Air Force:

Hayley's Don't Tread on Me tattoo

Hayley writes, “I’ve always considered myself a Constitutionalist, and decide to live my life by the rights our founding forefathers gave us. I live in Illinois, which is the only state that doesn’t allow concealed carry of any kind. I found this tattoo only appropriate.”

Bruce M. got his tattoo done by James Rogers of the St. Louis Tattoo Company in Chesterfield, MO:

Bruce's Don't Tread on Me tattoo

Bruce told me an amusing story about when he was getting it: “While he was tattooing me I saw his cell phone desktop image and it was the Obama ‘08 election symbol with the tri color circle with ‘Change’ on it. I immediately thought I had the wrong guy tattooing me, I hoped at that point that he had no idea what DTOM symbolized. Eventually he told me he had designed a poster with the Obama design I saw on his cell pnone. He told me then that it said ‘Change It Back’ and was a protest against Obama. Brother was I relieved. James did a great job on my tattoo. I’m now thinking I will get the Gonzales flag tattooed on my left arm.”

The Gonzales flag Bruce is talking about is the fierce Texan “Come and Take It” with the cannon.

Cody C. “wanted to share my tattoo I got it because I love America and I am not happy with the path our growing government is taking us down.” Here it is:

Cody's Don't Tread on Me tattoo

Nice tat, Cody.

Sean M. from West Des Moines, Iowa, got his first tattoo a few weeks ago:

Sean's Don't Tread on Me tattoo

Sean writes, “I’m proud to be wearing it!”

Steve “The Lightning Man” Kalinowski got his in September 2011 at Black Orchid in Savannah, Georgia:

Steve's Don't Tread on Me tattoo

“I combined the Gadsden design with the crossed pistols of the US Army Military Police,” Steve writes. “I served as an MP from 1988 to 1992 and finally decided to commemorate my service.”

To browse the full collection of tattoos, here’s the archive and don’t miss the original page.

And be sure to send me a photo if you get one. I’m chris<--at--> Be sure to let me know if it would be OK for me to use the tattoo on this page and include a thing or two about yourself, what the tattoo means to you, why you got it, etc.

Don’t Tread on Me Confederate Flag Clip Art

August 27th, 2011

Edwin from the Netherlands just made a wonderful addition to our Gadsden clip art collection. Check it out:

Don't Tread on Me confederate flag

He says he saw a “similar image once but that one was too crude (in color, detail and resolution) and certainly not fit for print and most important: it didn’t had all the stars visible, so I felt that I had to rework the image in order to make all stars visible and use the right colors of the Confederate battle flag.”

The above has been reduced in size. Here is a larger version (900 pixels wide), a super-sized version (6000 pixels wide) suitable for printing, and an SVG vector image file for graphic designers who want to make adjustments.

Edwin is generously offering the image to anyone, for any use.

Gadsden Flag Tattoos

June 28th, 2011

It’s been a full year since I did a tattoo update. Dozens of people have sent me great Don’t Tread on Me tattoos since June 2010, and here I am, finally sharing them.

Caleb's Don't Tread on Me tattoo

Caleb L. is a platoon leader in the U.S. Army Cavalry stationed at Ft. Knox.

Caleb wrote, “I actually just handed my tattoo artist a printout of all the tattoos from your website and asked him to draw something similar but different, and this is what he came up with… hopefully my tattoo can help someone else choose theirs as well.”


Ronin's Gadsden tattoo

This fantastic sleeve belongs to Ronin from Northern Virginia. We spoke years ago when he was first considering it. Now that it’s done, it’s a masterpiece!

Ronin notes, “all thirteen rattles are on the snake, the ghostly skulls are for the men and women who gave all for rights, there is even one hidden in there wearing a tri-corn hat.”

Ronin's Gadsden tattoo

The artist that did Ronin’s sleeve is named Charon. In Ronin’s area she tattoos at Marlowe Ink, in Fairfax, VA, but she travels the country.

Ronin says, “Check out her site. [] She’s also a sword swallower, and a carney. She is pure awesome.”

She is pure awesome.” I love that. :-)

Andy's Gadsden tattoo

Andy Lewis from St. Louis, Missouri, got this tattoo on his left underarm at Iron Age Tattoo.

Big Joe's Gadsden tattoo

Big Joe is a 20-year Navy veteran, retired since 1996. His career started with the evacuation of Saigon and ended with Operation Desert Storm (Gulf War I).

Joe says, “I firmly believe in the US Constitution, as written, and feel it’s slipping away now bit by bit. All the arduous service that I and my freedom loving military brethren down through our nation’s history have sacrificed so much for is now being usurped and discarded. In a word, disrespected!”

His tattoo was done by Brian at Ink Obsessions, Cookstown, NJ.

Andrew's DTOM tattoo

Andrew F. from Des Moines, Iowa, has this amazing piece of artwork on his left side.

“I wanted the Gadsden flag, but didn’t want the same as everyone else’s. I had a tattoo artist draw this up, add his own twist to it, and had it done.”

Ken's Gadsden tattoo

Ken B. from Virginia says this is his first tattoo. The artist was recommended by his daughter.

“I thought of the Gadsden-type tattoo, because I’m a patriot first, but chose to let the artist get creative. I’m glad I did; he took images that meant something to me and created a masterpiece. I was an airborne tanker in the Army, and my soon-to-be-ex-wife hates snakes. ;-)”

Corey's DTOM tattoo

Corey writes, “I’m full time Guard. Been serving in the military for six years. This symbol is something that has always fit me but now more than ever with our change towards socialism. For me it takes on many forms: it is gun rights, guts, freedom from tyranny, hate, whatever it is to to you. I wear it proudly. I refused to be over run by government, trodden on by liberal views. I’m sticking firm and proud to my Southern heritage and God-given rights. Men died for our country. Not just now but many wars before so we can live in freedom. I’m gonna uphold that. Tread on me and you will feel a bite and believe it will be venemous. This tat represents me an American.”

Corey’s tattoo was done by Sacred Art in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu near Waikiki Beach.

John's Gadsden tattoo

John A. got this tattoo on his right forearm.

“As an retired Army veteran, I’m proud to wear a symbol that defends our freedom.”

Mark at Snake Eyes Tattoo in Sierra Vista, AZ, is the artist.

Britton's Gadsden tattoo

Britton is from Lyndonville, Vermont. (Which, coincidentally, is where I went to college for two years.)

Britton writes, “I have always been a patriotic kind of guy and this tattoo shows my patriotism and that I don’t like to put up with government bullshit. The snake to me represents the little guy and the words ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ mean that the government should leave us the hell alone. I got this tattoo on leave from Afghanistan by an artist by the name of Bald Bill at Yankee Tattoo in Burlington VT. Great Artist.”

Dennis's Gadsden tattoo

Dennis from Geneseo, NY, writes, “This tattoo reminds me of the millions of men and women who have fought and died for the freedoms I now enjoy and makes me think ‘what am I willing to give up to pass those freedoms onto my children?’”

Dennis’s work was done by Jimmy at Expressive Ink in Dansville, NY.

Zachary's Gadsden tattoo

Zachary B. from Michigan checked out this site for ideas while designing his.

“I got it done by a very talented artist named David at Canvas Tattoo in Eagan, MN. I got it because it so clearly and simply sums up my basic political ideology. Live free or die trying.”

Joe's DTOM tattoo

Joe R. from New Mexico writes, “I finally got mine, and it was free-handed by Raphael Harrison. Close to my heart, this says it all. Liberty or Death my friends.”

Mike's Gadsden tattoo

Mike J. writes, “I got the tattoo for two reasons. It symbolizes defiance to people who would threaten our freedom and being a former Marine I like that it was used at the muster of the first United States Marines. It was done by Ben Rooks at Skinpricks Tattoos in Chattanooga, TN.”

Phil's Gadsden tattoo

Phil S. of Cleveland, Ohio, writes “I come from a big conservative family. There are no tattoos on any of us seven siblings. But when they saw this one, they all approved. … One of my teenage daughters designed the inside of the snake for me (she drew a very detailed version that I have on my wall).”

Jim's Gadsden tattoo

Jim C. is in the US Air Force. He got this awesome tattoo because, he says, “I love God, guns, and my country.”

David's DTOM tattoo

This wicked tattoo belongs to David Morris in Northern California.

“I got this tattoo because I love my country and I want all around me to know it. The sad thing is most Americans have no idea what this means. … We must protect our country and not let the minority rule the majority. For our children’s sake.”

David’s tattoo was done by Eric Cressy at Seventh Son Tattoo in San Francisco.

Wallace's DTOM tattoo

Wallace Keeney from Flint, Michigan, had this clear message carved on his chest by Ryan Brown of Custom Ink and Steel.

Wallace writes, “I got this tattoo to be patriotic. I am about to enlist after my next semester of college. I want people to know that my country and myself are not to be tread on and that I am proud to be American!”


Rick's Gadsden tattoo

Rick R. is a Marine and a combat veteran. He writes, “I truly believe in my country. I am a diehard patriot. It’s beautiful to know there are so many more! … SEMPER FI! LIBERTY OR DEATH!”

William's DTOM tattoo

William K. writes, “I am not a bandwagon-jumper or some political affiliate, just a downhome New Hampshire-born patriot who loves his country, family, and guns!”

The tattoo was done by Mike, aka EZMoney, at Combat Ink in Loveland, Colorado.

San Francisco Firetrucks Flying the First Navy Jack

April 21st, 2011

Fireman David M. sent me these photos of his fire company’s rigs flying the First Navy Jack “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.

SF firetruck flying the First Navy Jack
SF firetruck flying the First Navy Jack
SF firetruck flying the First Navy Jack

As you can see, these trucks are in San Francisco! It’s SFFD Staion 16 in the Marina District. Any bets on how long it takes for someone to complain?

Don’t Tread on Me Bicentennial Poster

January 24th, 2011

An interesting item came up for sale today on eBay. It’s a poster from the Bicentennial celebrating the Battle of Kings Mountain, an engagement between Patriot and Loyalist militias.

Don't Tread on Me Rotunda in Chicago

As the seller describes it: “Poster shows burly colonial (printed in black and white) holding ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag. Red legend reads ‘Victory Ours on King’s Mountain - South Carolina - October 7, 1780.’ Poster is bordered by the names of the thirteen colonies in blue letters. … Copyright 1975-Leonard Everett Fisher and published by Franklin Watts Inc.”

Auction ends January 30.

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