"A nation thrills, a nation bleeds,A nation follows where it leads,And every man is proud to yield His life upon a crimson field For Betsy's battle flag." - Minna Irving, "Betsy's Battle Flag"
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Betsy Ross is one of the few women in American history whose name is known to every American, but that is not the only reason she's such a unique figure. Indeed, Betsy Ross is a true rarity in that she has been turned into a mythological heroine. Every country has legends, and tales that grow out of its founding, but given that the United States is a relatively young country, there is ample historical information on the lives and exploits of its Founders. Though there are apocryphal myths attached to men like George Washington, who did not chop down the cherry tree, American legends are usually famous for what they actually did.
This is not the case with Betsy Ross, who remains best known for creating the first American flag at Washington's behest. But that story is based entirely on legend and rumor, and as such, her life is interesting more as a symbol than as an individual life. Historian Marla Miller, author of the definitive biography of Ross, explains this dilemma: "From start to finish, Betsy Ross remained elusive to me as an individual."
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