Stars and Stripes
(The) or the Star-spangled Banner, the flag of the United States of North America. The first flag of the United States, raised by Washington June 2, 1776, consisted of thirteen stripes, alternately red and white, with a blue canton emblazoned with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. In 1777 Congress ordered that the canton should have thirteen white stripes in a blue field.
In 1794 (after the admission of Vermont and Kentucky) the stripes and stars were each increased to fifteen. In 1818 S. R. Reid suggested that the original thirteen stripes should be restored, and a star be added to signify the States in the union.
The flag preceding 1776 represented a coiled rattlesnake with thirteen rattles, and the motto Don't tread on me. This was an imitation of the Scotch thistle and the motto Nemo me impune lacessit.
Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894