TOPEKA — A bill passed Thursday by the Senate allowing Kansas to print “Don’t Tread on Me” license plates came under scrutiny by Democrats for its association with a former slave owner.
Under House Bill 2166, several types of distinctive license plates would be authorized to support state educators and veterans, and raise money to fight childhood cancer. Another provision authorized production of the Don’t Tread on Me plates, modeled after the Gadsden flag.
Christopher Gadsden, the designer of the yellow flag bearing a hissing snake, was a merchant and slave owner. He also built a wharf in Charleston, where an estimated 100,000 enslaved Africans landed in the United States.