Ahhh the Fourth of July. Time to celebrate our country by drinking heavily, eating copious amounts of barbecue, blowing some shit up, and maybe shedding a tear or two at the sight of the red, white, and blue flapping in a patriotic wind. Good times. However, before you pass out in a celebratory haze, have you ever asked yourself where the hell our flag came from? Well buddy, sit back, because it's time to do some learning about liberty.
Now wait a minute you might be saying, we all know the story behind the American flag. Good old Betsy Ross sewed that bitch up on the direction of George Washington himself. Well guess what, my easily taken in chum, that story is a load of crap. The only thing Betsy Ross ever did was distract a British colonel (actually he was German, but he was fighting for the British and we're trying to keep this shit simple) with her feminine charm prior to a battle, which is a nice way of saying she generally acted like a slattern (a fun old timey word) who might give him a little something something. She also got married three times, the third time to the man who told her that her second husband had died in a British prison, because apparently it was really hard to meet new people back then.
So where did our flag come from? Well, the first flag was adopted in 1775 and was pretty much the thirteen red and white stripes we see today (one for each of the original 13 colonies), but without the stars, instead having the British flag in the corner. Now, this was a little confusing, given that it's just kind of weird to include the flag of the country you're rebelling against in your own flag. Never mind the fact that this exact same flag was used by the East India Company, a huge British conglomerate which pretty much had a monopoly over trade with Asia at the time. It was like you fighting in a revolt under a flag bearing the golden arches of McDonald's. Sufficed to say, the flag didn't really stir much patriotic feeling, so it was generally agreed upon that it would probably be best to change it.
Into this mix came some dude by the name of Francis Hopkinson, a half ass lawyer who signed the Declaration of Independence for New Jersey. Francis preferred to spend his time trying to get people to listen to the crappy music he composed, but after getting offered a quarter cask of wine to do the job, agreed to design a new flag. Not to be a man to put too much work into anything, he just took the British flag part out and replaced it with the blue box we are familiar with filled with thirteen stars (again for the thirteen colonies already represented by the stripes). Francis handed over the new flag, but the government, not letting the fact they were pretty new on the job dissuade them from being assholes, refused to pay him the wine he was owed. Francis then died rather young, giving Betsy Ross the chance to jump in with a bullshit story to take all the credit. Just another case of a woman stealing a man's idea (because you know, history is just full of that happening).
Francis' flag was America's banner until 1795, when two new states joined the union. Unsure of what to do, it was decided to add not just two more stars, but also two more stripes. However, as more states started to join the union, people began to realize that a flag with a gazillion stripes would look pretty stupid. This caused a huge disagreement of what to do, leading to the flag staying in its fifteen stars and fifteen stripes configuration despite five more states joining the union, which probably made those five states feel like the one kid who didn't get a birthday card from their grandmother even though all the other grandchildren totally did get one. The bullshit finally ended in 1818 when it was agreed to reduce the stripes back to thirteen and give each state a star, which is the arrangement we have today, the last change taking place in 1959. So there you go. Happy America Day.