If you have attended any of the thousands of tea parties held across the country over the last year, or have seen them TV, you might notice that historical US flags are widely displayed at these events. In fact, these flags are the most prominent feature at tea party rallies; even more so than the hundreds of hand-made poster-board signs which highlight an individual's political stance.It may be the first time you have seen some these flags and you may wonder about the history behind them.This article lists the five most popular tea party flags and their historical significance.

Without question, the most popular tea party flag is the Gadsden Flag.This flag has a yellow field, along with an image of a coiled-up rattlesnake, ready to strike its prey.Below the snake reads the warning: "Don't Tread On Me."The use of the rattlesnake as a symbol of defiance dates back to the period before the American Revolutionary War.Benjamin Franklin believed the rattlesnake best represented the character of the American people; because it is slow to anger and only strikes after giving a fair warning, similar to the rattlesnake.Franklin had long used the rattlesnake image as a warning to the British authorities that they should not trample or "tread" upon our God-given rights.

Colonel Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina was in charge of outfitting America's new navy.He noticed that many young recruits often painted their drums yellow with the image of a rattlesnake and the words "Don't Tread On Me" painted on the drums.He took this pattern and had flags made up to look the same; and the Gadsden Flag was born.

Gadsden Flag

Another prominent tea party flag is the First Navy Jack Flag.This flag is compromised of red and white horizontal stripes and an uncoiled rattlesnake with the phrase "Don't Tread On Me" beneath it.This was America's first official maritime flag.It flew aboard ships of America's first naval armada led by Commodore Esek Hopkins.

First Navy Jack

The final tea party flag with the "Don't Tread On Me" warning is the Culpeper Flag.This flag has a white background, coiled rattlesnake and the aforementioned phrase; however, it also adds the words "Culpeper Minutemen" and Patrick Henry's rallying call "Liberty or Death."The flag was flown by the Minutemen of Culpeper, Virginia.

Culpeper Flag

Other popular tea party flags include the original Betsy Ross Flag and the Bennington Flag.The Betsy Ross flag was of course America's first national flag. This flag has red and white stripes and a blue field in the upper-left portion of the flag.In this blue area, referred to as the "canton" in flag lingo, 13 white stars are displayed in a circular pattern, each one representing one of the Original 13 Colonies.

Betsy Ross FlagBennington Flag

The Bennington Flag looks similar to the Betsy Ross flag with a few deviations; the biggest being the inclusion of the number "76" on the Bennington to represent the year the Declaration of the Independence was signed.The stars on Bennington flag are scattered across the blue field and not in the circular pattern of the Ross Flag.Also, the Bennington stars are seven-pointed to the Ross's five-pointed stars.The Bennington Flag was first flown during the Battle of Bennington, NY in 1777.With a little hint of irony, these two flags are often altered by way of tea-staining to give them an antique, weathered appearance.

The five flags listed above are by far the most popular flags on display at tea parties across the nation.