The American flag has stood as a symbol of American independence for more than 200 years, but the stars and stripes represent more than just America's independence.
Like the British flag, the American flag is red, white and blue. Red symbolizes hardiness and valor; white stands for purity and innocence; blue means vigilance, perseverance and justice.
The 50 white stars in the blue rectangle of the flag represent the 50 states of the U.S. In 1818, President Monroe established there would be one star on the American flag for each state.
Thirteen stripes comprise the rest of the flag–seven red alternating with six white. The stripes stand for the original 13 colonies.
In 1795, after Kentucky and Maryland were admitted, the American flag had 15 stripes--one for each state. The stripes stayed that way until 1818 when President Monroe decided there would be 13 stripes permanently.
When Betsy Ross made the first American flag in 1776, it had 13 stripes and 13 stars.