What Does “Don’t Tread On Me” Mean?
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Don’t tread on me. It’s a phrase taken from the American Revolution but has been used in reference to the American flag since the early 20th century. The original meaning of the phrase is that the person standing on the Constitution, i.e. the United States, has the right to protect it and its people from unwarranted governmental intrusion.
It was originally used by the Sons of Liberty who were protesting the British government’s actions during the American Revolution. They would often hold up a sign or carry a flag which said “Don’t tread on me.” The current meaning is more political. The phrase was first used in reference to the Vietnam War by the American Legion when they began their anti-war campaign. In 1970, President Nixon said the following about the phrase: “I think ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ means don’t go too far.