Betsy Ross is best known as the legendary maker of the first American flag, but her story is an inspirational one that goes well beyond her association with the flag. Betsy Ross was a courageous and spirited woman whose life was filled with hardships. She was shunned by her family and forbidden to worship as a Quaker for marrying a man of a different faith. She was widowed three times, and two of her seven daughters died as infants. Faced with these adversities, Betsy managed to prevail as an industrious businesswoman, running her own upholstery shop at a time when women were not given the same opportunities as men.
Betsy often amused her children and grandchildren by recounting the story of how she made the first Stars and Stripes. For nearly a century, the story of Betsy Ross and the making of the first flag was known only by her family. It wasn't until William Canby's speech to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1870 that the nation was first introduced to his remarkable grandmother and her accomplishments.
According to Canby, his grandmother told him about the day in 1776 when General George Washington and two members of the Continental Congress walked through the door of her upholstery shop. Well aware of the significance of their visit, Betsy led her guests to the privacy of her parlor. Here, the men disclosed the reason for their visit—they wanted Betsy to make a flag for the new nation. Betsy explained that she had never made a flag before, but she would be willing to try.
The men presented her with a sketch of the proposed flag. She studied the drawing and noticed that there were six-pointed stars in the design. Betsy suggested that the stars should have five points, but the gentlemen protested, claiming that a great many of these flags must be made very quickly and a five-pointed star would be too difficult to make. With that, Betsy folded a piece of paper and with just one snip of her scissors she revealed a perfect five-pointed star. The men were impressed with her skill and agreed to change the design. One year later, on June 14, 1777, Congress passed the Flag Resolution, making the Stars and Stripes the official flag of the United States.
Source: The Betsy Ross House