Grand Union: the first flag of the United States

George Washington flew it in Boston on January 1, 1776.

At the beginning of 1776 England was still the Mother Country. On January 1, during the Siege of Boston, George Washington flew a new flag, which was the first ensign of the United States. It consisted of 13 horizontal red and white stripes, symbolizing the 13 colonies, and in the upper left corner appeared the British Union Jack. As historian Thomas Fleming argues,

the flag affirmed the American determination to resist authoritarian pressures from Great Britain, but at the same time to maintain adherence to the ideal of a united British Empire. 

The flag, christened Grand Union, was the one Washington took with him when he crossed the Delaware, not the Stars and Stripes that appear in most paintings immortalizing that moment.

The persistence of the war finally led to the abandonment of the Grand Union in mid-1777 and the general use of the Stars and Stripes.