Republican party tweets Independence Day well-wishes with flag of Liberia

<span>Photograph: Yonathan Weitzman/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Yonathan Weitzman/Reuters

The Republican party was embarrassed when a tweet from its official account celebrating Independence Day featured the wrong flag.

The tweet read: “247 years ago, our forefathers told Ol’ King George to get lost! Happy Independence Day from the GOP!”

But the two flags the Grand Old Party featured in its tweet appeared to be flags of Liberia: similar to the Stars and Stripes but featuring a single white star in the blue canton at top left, next to a field of red stripes.

The tweet was deleted, but not before screenshots preserved the error for posterity – and mockery.

Jezebel said: “Happy Independence Day! It’s time to make fun of some nerds who can’t use social media to save their lives.”

The site also asked: “What’s that sound you just heard between fireworks? Probably a social media intern getting fired.”

A subsequent tweet from @GOP featured a sparkler in front of a US flag, with the message: “Thank you to all the men and women in uniform who continue to defend our freedom at home and abroad. Happy Independence Day!”’

On Wednesday morning, a tweet of an image similar to the original GOP tweet, by the police department in Austin, Texas, remained live.

Under the Austin tweet, referring to restrictive policies in Republican states regarding the teaching of issues including race in US history, one critic wrote: “That’s the Liberian national flag, not the American flag. This is what happens when you ban books.”

Books would tell the Republican party and the Austin police why the Liberian flag is similar to the Stars and Stripes.

As described by the Office of the Historian of the US Department of State, “the founding of Liberia in the early 1800s was motivated by the domestic politics of slavery and race in the United States as well as by US foreign policy interests”.

In short, the founding in 1816 of the American Colonization Society, a doomed attempt by white Americans to solve the problem of slavery by sending enslaved people to Africa, led to a first group settling in what is now Liberia. The west African county declared independence in 1847.

According to Gettysburg Flag Works – a New York company which has made “a wide range of the highest quality flag products … for over 20 years” – the similarity of the Liberia flag to the Stars and Stripes “was a deliberate choice on the part of Liberia’s government to represent the country’s history and the high value that the new nation placed on liberty”.