Don’t Tread on Me license plate sparks debate over flag ties, meaning

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A seemingly innocuous bill approving a series of new distinctive license plates sparked debate last week in the Kansas Legislature. That’s because one plate included would be based on the Gadsden flag — a design critics say has ties to slavery.

Cristopher Gadsden designed the yellow Revolutionary War symbol bearing a hissing snake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” He was a merchant and slave owner in South Carolina who had a wharf built bearing his name in Charleston, where an estimated 100,000 enslaved Africans landed in the United States.

The bill passed the House and Senate and is now headed to Gov. Laura Kelly for review.

Read more about Thursday’s floor debate in both chambers.

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Noah Taborda

reporter, Kansas Reflector