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Betsy Ross is a surviving 1917 American silent historical film starring Alice Brady and produced and distributed by her father William A. Brady.[1][2]

Betsy Ross
Betsy Ross poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byTravers Vale
George Cowl
Produced byWilliam A. Brady (of World Film)
Written byHenry A. Du Souchet
StarringAlice Brady
CinematographyMax Schneider
Arthur L. Todd
Distributed byWorld Film Company
Release date
  • September 17, 1917 (1917-09-17)
Running time
60 minutes (5 reels)
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)



Betsy Ross (full film)

As described in a film magazine,[3] Betsy Griscome (Brady), against the wishes of her Quaker parents, keeps a tryst with a British officer, Clarence Vernon (Mayo), who promises to marry her upon his return. Clarissa (Cook), her sister, falls in love and marries Joseph Ashburn (Bowers), a trader. Suspecting Vernon of duplicity, Joseph and Vernon fight a duel and Vernon is struck down. A year later Betsy marries John Ross (Kennard), and upon his death she operates a little shop for a living. Here she shields her sister, who was driven from home when she could not produce her marriage certificate. Betsy is commissioned by General Washington (MacQuarrie) to make the first American flag and later is accused of harboring a spy - in reality, her sister's husband. The film ends happily when all relations are explained.



Like many American films of the time, Betsy Ross was subject to cuts by city and state film censorship boards. The Chicago Board of Censors required cuts of scenes of a sword thrust during the duel, killing of second man in duel, the two intertitles "Scarlet woman" and "Don't you dare kill the Vernon nigger," the scene with a duel vision, and the actual firing of the squad at the execution.[4]


  1. ^ The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1911-20 by The American Film Institute, c.1988]
  2. ^ Progressive Silent Film List: Betsy Ross at
  3. ^ "Reviews: Betsy Ross". Exhibitors Herald. New York: Exhibitors Herald Company. 5 (12): 23. September 15, 1917.
  4. ^ "Official Cut-Outs by the Chicago Board of Censors". Exhibitors Herald. 5 (13): 33. September 22, 1917.

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