The Culpeper Flag is often mistaken as a modern variation of the iconic “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden Flag – and rightly so. What many don’t know is that the Culpeper Flag was inspired by its Gadsden counterpart, and both have become touchstones of the Second Amendment Movement.
While remarkably similar to its Gadsden relative, the flag of the Culpeper Minutemen is arguably cooler – and significantly more obscure. While it has the same coiled rattlesnake and “Don’t Tread on Me” legend, the Culpeper Flag is white, it carries the additional motto “Liberty or Death,” and when historically correct, a banner bearing the name of the Culpeper Minutemen.
The rattlesnake had been a symbol of American patriotism since the time of the French and Indians Wars. In 1751, Benjamin Franklin wrote an editorial satirically proposing that, in return for boatloads of convicts being shipped to the American Colonies, that the Colonies should return the favor by shipping back a boat filled with rattlesnakes to be dispersed. Three years later in 1754, Franklin published his famous “Join or Die” comic. This early symbol of American unity urged colonists in Albany to join the collective defense of the American Colonies during the French and Indian Wars. The rattlesnake symbol once again became a popular mascot of American unity after the Stamp Act.