The American Congress resolved (June 14, 1777), that the flag of the United States should have thirteen stripes, alternately red and white, to represent the thirteen States of the Union, together with thirteen white stars, on a blue ground. General Washington's escutcheon contained two stripes, each alternated with red and white, and, like the American stars, those of the General had only five points instead of six. A new star is now added for each new State, but the stripes remain the same.
However, before the separation the flag contained thirteen stripes of alternate red and white to indicate the thirteen colonies: and the East India Company flag, as far back as 1704, had thirteen stripes. The Company flag was cantoned with St. George's Cross, the British American flag with the Union Jack.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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