General George Washington first raised the Continental Army flag in 1776, a red-and-white striped flag with the British Union Jack where we now have stars. Several flag designs with 13 stripes were used in 1776 and 1777, until Congress established an official design on June 14, 1777 - now observed as Flag Day.
No records confirm who designed the original Stars and Stripes, but historians believe Francis Hopkinson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, probably modified the unofficial Continental flag into the design today. In June 1776, George Washington approached Betsy Ross, a seamstress, to make the country's first flag. Legend credits Ross with having sewn the first flag to meet the specifications outlined by Congress, while changing the stars from six points to five to speed her work.
Flag Act of 1777
Passed by the Second Continental Congress in 1777 saying that the flag should be made of 13 stripes, alternating between red and white, and that 13 stars be added representing a new constellation.
Flag Act of 1794
Signed into law by President George Washington in 1794, changed the design of the flag to accommodate the admission of Vermont and Kentucky into the Union. It provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars. This would be the only official flag of the United States not to have 13 stripes.
Flag Act of 1818 Sets Final Form
As other states entered the Union, it became obvious that stripes could not be added continually, so in 1818 Congress reestablished the 13-stripe flag for the original 13 colonies and allowed for additional stars for new states.
First Flag Day Celebration
The first Flag Day observance was held on June 14th, 1885. Bernard J. Cigrand, a 19-year-old teacher at Stony Hill School in Waubeka, Wisconsin, placed a flag on his desk then assigned essays on the flag and its significance. Cigrand is considered by many to be the Father of Flag Day. In 1916, the president proclaimed a nationwide observance of Flag Day, but it was not until 1949 that Congress voted for Flag Day to be a permanent holiday.