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In this Affidavit of Margaret Boggs, niece of Betsy Ross, Boggs tells of hearing first hand from Betsy Ross that she made the first American flag. The affidavit is important because it is one of a few testimonies from relatives of Betsy Ross that are the only surviving documentation that the Betsy Ross Flag story is true.
Many historians have doubted the Betsy Ross Flag story since no other documentation from the Continental Congress verifying the story has survived. The accounts from Ross' own relatives are the only indication that there is any truth to the story.
Boggs told the story of how George Washington and a secret committee from Congress came to the home of Betsy Ross on a mission to create the first American flag. According to the legend, Betsy Ross made a major contribution by suggesting that the stars should be six-pointed stars instead of five-pointed stars. Read more about the Betsy Ross Flag controversy here.
Two other relatives wrote affidavits confirming the Betsy Ross Flag story as well:
William Canby was the grandson of Betsy Ross. His paper spoken before the the Historical Society of Philadelphia in March, 1780 is the main source of the Betsy Ross Flag story. Read The History of the Flag of the United States by William Canby here.
Learn more about the personal life of Betsy Ross at our Betsy Ross Facts page.
AFFIDAVIT DATED JUNE 3, 1870
Affidavit of Margaret Donaldson Boggs, Daughter of
Sarah Donaldson, who was a Sister of
Elizabeth Claypoole (Betsy Ross)
I, Margaret Boggs, of the City of Philadelphia, Widow, do hereby certify that I have heard my aunt, Elizabeth Claypoole say many times, that she made the first Star Spangled Banner that ever was made with her own hands; that she made it on the order of General Washington and a committee of the Continental Congress, who together called personally upon her at her house on the North side Arch Street below Third Street, Philadelphia, some time previously to the Declaration of Independence. That they brought with them a drawing, roughly made, of the proposed flag; that she said it was wrong, and proposed alterations, which Washington and the Committee approved; that one of these alterations was in regard to the number of points of the star; that she said it should be five-pointed, and showed them how to fold a piece of paper in the proper manner, and with one cut of the scissors, to make a five-pointed star; that General Washington sat at a table in her back parlor, where they were, and made a drawing of the flag embodying her suggestions, and that she made the flag according to this drawing, and the committee carried it before Congress, by whom it was approved and adopted. That she then received orders to make flags for the government as fast as possible; and from that time forward, for upwards of fifty years she made all the flags made for the United States in Philadelphia, and largely for the other naval stations. I was for many years a member of her family, and aided her in the business. I believe the facts stated in the foregoing article entitled "The First American Flag and Who Made It," which has now been read to me are all strictly true.
Witness my hand at Germantown in the City of Philadelphia, this Third day of June A.D. 1870.
Charles B. Engle
Stephen T. Beale
State of Pennsylvania
City of Philadelphia SS.
On the Third day of June A.D. 1870, before me Charles B. Engle a Notary Public in and for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, duly commissioned, residing in the said City of Philadelphia, personally appeared the within named Margaret Boggs, who being duly affirmed did depose and say that the statements within certified to by her are all strictly true, according to the best of her knowledge and belief, and that she is a daughter of Sarah Donaldson, who was a sister of Elizabeth Claypoole.
Affirmed and subscribed before me
day and year aforesaid.
Witness my hand and Notarial Seal
Charles B. Engle, Notary Public.
Published October 10/20/11