Christopher Gadsden was a colonel in the Continental army, a slave owner and slave trader from South Carolina. History remembers him for designing what is known as the Gadsden Flag, depicting a coiled rattlesnake about to strike, with the motto, “Don’t Tread on Me”. To the outnumbered and outgunned Revolutionary army defying the tyranny of England, Gadsden’s flag was meant to inspire courage and personify the indominable spirit of the American Revolution.

Since then, the Gadsden Flag has been adopted by conservative, libertarian and right-wing anti-government groups. It was a favorite of The Tea Party, militia activists at Ruby Ridge and the January 6 insurrectionists. There’s even a rainbow version used by the Queer Nation defense group. Now, if Senate File 47 is adopted, the belligerent Gadsden Flag will be an option for personalized Iowa license plates. For an extra $35, Iowans will be able to pick a fight with strangers without even getting out of their car.

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