Continental Flag

Date: 1775 - 1776.

Canton - green pine tree on white. Red field. [R22]

The first local symbol in the American colonies had been the British Red Ensign from which the Puritans cut out the cross of St. George. In 1686 when the cross was restored to the flag a small green pine tree was inserted in the upper corner.

The pine was important to the the commerce of New England during the 1700s. A pine tree of one kind or another was recognized as the distinctive banner of New England.

When the Revolution began all British symbols were omitted from this flag. Although the Pine tree flags of New England were flown extensively, variations of motto, color, and the position of the pine tree were frequent.

While never officially recognized by an act of the Continental Congress, the Pine Tree Flag was in fact employed as the national naval ensign for a time. In April 1776, the Massachusetts legislature officially adopted the Pine Tree Flag to distinguish American cruisers form the British Merchant Marine.