Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP, recently adorned the façade of its offices with a proud display of the U.S. Flag, the Georgia Flag, and the Gadsden Flag. While most members of our community are acquainted with all three banners, many do not know the precise history and meaning of the Gadsden Flag.
The Gadsden Flag depicts a coiled rattlesnake with thirteen rattles against a yellow background with the motto: "Don't Tread on Me". It was first commissioned by Navy Colonel Christopher Gadsden in 1775 who delivered it as a gift to Commodore Esek Hopkins, the Commander of the Continental Navy for the American colonies in the Revolutionary War. Shortly thereafter the flag flew on the mainmast during the Continental Navy's first mission against the British fleet, and it remained as the most prominent flag of the American colonies until the formal adoption of the Stars and Stripes.
As noted by one historical observer, "since the Revolution, the flag has been reintroduced as a symbol of American patriotism, disagreement with Government, or support for civil liberties." Its display at Flint, Connolly & Walker invokes our empathy with these concerns.
The rattlesnake itself was often used as a symbol of the American colonies during the Revolutionary era; however, its meaning was most succinctly described in an essay written by Benjamin Franklin – under the pseudonym of "the American Guesser" – in 1775:
I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eyelids. She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders. She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage [and] she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her.
Depicted in this manner, the characteristics of the colonial symbol are no less essential in today's environment than they were 225 years ago.
Benjamin Franklin's 1775 essay depicts attributes that we believe are fundamental to the successful representation of our clients. We are vigilant to preserve and promote the best interests of our clients, by seizing opportunities and initiatives to improve their circumstances and dispatching threats that may hinder their successes. In that pursuit we will always seek a course of action that is strategically designed for our individual client's needs.
We will always be judicious with our client's resources. To this end we prefer Benjamin Franklin's depiction of the rattlesnake, instead of the "bulldog" used by many attorneys to describe their own approach to the practice of law. A bulldog is stubborn, and it is bred with an inclination to fight first, to fight for the sake of fighting, and to fight without regard to the collateral damage it may create for its own master–these are not the attributes that we seek to embody or embrace in the practice of law.
Instead, we team with our clients and craft cost-effective and prudent strategies for confronting the challenges and opportunities that they encounter. In keeping with the attributes embodied by Gadsden's flag, when circumstances indicate that a diplomatic resolution cannot be achieved or that our client's best interest will be obtained through more aggressive means, we will engage the opponent strategically, decisively, and relentlessly to achieve success for our client.
We are proud to display the Gadsden Flag as a symbol of our belief in the American spirit that it represents and our commitment to provide vigilant, prudent, and relentless representation for our clients.