DEAD: Betsy Ross

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Betsy Ross (aged 84)

Person credited with making the American flag

Elizabeth Griscom Ross (January 1, 1752 – January 30, 1836), née Griscom, also known by her second and third married names, Ashburn and Claypoole,is widely credited with making the first American flag. According to family tradition, upon a visit from General George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, in 1776, Ross convinced George Washington to change the shape of the stars he had sketched for the flag from six-pointed to five-pointed by demonstrating that it was easier and speedier to cut the latter. However, there is no archival evidence or other recorded verbal tradition to substantiate this story of the first American flag, and it appears that the story first surfaced in the writings of her grandson in the 1870s (a century after the fact), with no mention or documentation in earlier decades.

DEATH: Ross spent her last three years living with her middle Claypoole daughter, Jane (1792–1873), in rapidly growing and industrializing Philadelphia. On Saturday, January 30, 1836, 60 years after the Declaration of Independence, Betsy Ross died at the age of 84. She was survived by five daughters with John Claypoole: Eliza, Clarissa, Susanna, Jane, and Rachel, and one sister, Hannah Griscom Levering (1755–1836), who herself died about 11 months later.
Although it is one of the most visited tourist sites in the city of Philadelphia, the claim that Ross once lived at the so-called “Betsy Ross House” is still a matter of historical academic dispute.

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