This Francis Hopkinson letter to Congress was written by Francis Hopkinson, a delegate to the Continental Congress from New Jersey and signer of the Declaration of Independence, in May, 1780. The letter is a bill asking for payment in return for designing various items for Congress including the Continental Currency, the Seal for the Board of the Treasury, the Seal for the Board of the Admiralty, the American flag and other items.
The letter is significant in studying who created the first American flag because it is the only documentary evidence of anyone claiming to have created the flag. Some scholars attribute the first flag to Hopkinson, while others discount the claim, partly because the bill was rejected by Congress and partly because Hopkinson resubmitted the bill a few days later asking for reimbursement for the United States navy flag, instead of for the United States flag.
You will find links to Hopkinson's second letter and to more about the history of the first American flag at the bottom of this page.
May 25, 1780
It is with great pleasure that I understand that my last Device of a Seal for the Board of Admiralty has met with your Honours' approbation. I have with great readiness upon several occasions exerted my small abilities in this way for the Public Service; & as I flatter myself to the satisfaction of those I wished to please, viz:
The flag of the United States of America
7 Devices for the Continental Currency
A Seal for the Board of Treasury
Ornaments, Devices, Checks for the new Bills of Exchange in Spain & Holland.
A Seal for the Ship Papers of the United States
A Seal for the Board of Admiralty
The Borders, Ornaments, and Checks for the New Continental Currency now in the Press, a work of considerable Length.
A Great Seal for the United States of America, with a Reverse.
For these Services I have as yet made no charge nor received any Recompense. I now submit it to your Honours' Consideration whether a Quarter Cask of the Public Wine will not be a proper & a reasonable Reward for these Labours of Fancy and a suitable Encouragement to future Exertions of a like nature.
I sincerely hope your Honours will be of this opinion & am with great Respect,
Your very humble servant,
You can read the resubmitted letter from Francis Hopkinson to Congress of June 6, 1780 here.
If you would like to read more about the Hopkinson Flag, please read our 13 Star Flag page.