The ‘Don’t Give Up the Ship’ Flag: Unfurling the Historical Legacy of a Timeless Banner

blue 'don't give up the ship' flag hanging from a pole mounted to a small bown house in front of verdant woods

From the stars and stripes of the United States to the Union Jack of the UK, flags are symbols that represent the ideals, the struggles, and the spirit of people groups everywhere. 

Among these, the “Don’t Give Up the Ship” flag holds a special place, because overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds takes incredible resilience and determination. Check out the history of these timeless words and this incredible banner, courtesy of Gettysburg Flag Works. 

A Naval Hero’s Legacy

The story behind this iconic flag and quote, which was spoken by American naval hero Captain James Lawrence, comes from the War of 1812 between the United States and the British Empire. “Don’t Give Up the Ship” has become a timeless example of determination and valor.

Captain James Lawrence was an officer in the United States Navy who commanded the USS Chesapeake. About a year into the war, Lawrence and his men were in battle with the HMS Shannon, a British warship. At some point during the battle, Captain Lawrence was seriously injured. As he lay dying, his final order to his crew was, “Don’t give up the ship!” These words became a spark of influence and motivation for not only the crew of the Chesapeake, but also for generations of Americans to come.

The Creation of the Flag

In the aftermath of the battle, Captain Lawrence’s words were taken to heart by many people that he knew. His friend and fellow officer, Oliver Hazard Perry, who was made famous for his victory on Lake Erie, was determined to honor Lawrence’s dying wish. Perry commissioned the creation of a flag featuring the slogan ‘DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP.’

Perry hoisted the flag aboard the USS Lawrence, which won the pivotal Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813. During the battle, Perry’s fleet defeated a British squadron, and the flag bearing Lawrence’s last words played a significant role in rallying American forces.

A Symbol of National Resolve

The legacy of the ‘Don’t Give Up the Ship’ flag extends far beyond its origins. That’s because the quote can be used in so many different ways to represent the tenacity and undefeated nature of the American people. The War of 1812 tested our nation’s ability to stand up against the biggest world power at the time. Since the War of 1812, the words “Don’t Give Up The Ship” have become a symbol for Americans confronting challenges in many ways.

Today, the flag is a treasured artifact held in the collection of the United States Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, Maryland. It serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who have defended the nation.

Feeling inspired by Captain Lawrence? You can get your own ‘Don’t Give Up The Ship’ flag in any size—all the way up to 6’x10’—at Gettysburg Flag Works. We even have a specialty Commodore Perry Burgee boat flag for people that want to put this iconic phrase on their own boats! 

Questions about our ‘Don’t Give Up the Ship’ flag or any of our other historic flags? Contact Gettysburg Flag Works online or give us a call at 1-888-697-3524

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