Serapis or Texel Flag

Date: 1779.

Red, white and blue stripes. Thirteen eight-pointed white stars in a blue canton. [R21]

In 1779, Jones sailed his ship, the Bon-Homme Richard, to its fateful encounter with the Serapis off the coast of Scotland. He won this most famous of the Revolutionary sea battles, but was forced to abandon his sinking ship and transfer his ensign and crew to the captured frigate, He sailed to the nearby port of Texel, Netherlands. The friendly Dutch port the awarded a flag that fit a description prescribed by Ben Franklin.

In a 1778 letter, Benjamin Franklin, then Commissioner to France, wrote to the King of Naples and described our nation's new flag as "having thirteen stripes alternating red, white, and blue."

The letter to the right is from Representative George Goodling of the Pennsylvania 19th Congressional District questioning the validity of the claim that the flag above was actually flown on the Serapis. This collection was displayed at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. in 1967.