The Stars And Stripes flag that was designed by Franklin and Adams in 1778 consisted of thirteen repeated (from top to bottom) red, white and blue stripes. The canton consisted of a blue background on which were thirteen eight-point stars in three rows of four / five / four stars.
On 08 October 1778, the Ambassador of Naples wrote to the Commissioners at Paris: "Gentlement: I am persuaded that you already know that the King of the Two Sicilies, my master, has ordered the ports of all his dominions to be kept open to the flag of the United States of America, for which reason, to avoid every possible mistake at this time, when the seas are covered with the privateers of different nations, and likewise with pirates, I request you to inform me of the colors of the flag of the United States of America, and likewise of the form of the clearances, the better to know the legality of the papers which it is customary to present in ports to gain free admission..."
In a letter to the Ambassador of Naples, dated 09 October 1778, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams replied: "It is with pleasure that we acquaint your excellency that the flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen stripes, alternately red, white, and blue; a small square in the upper angle, next the flagstaff, is a blue field, with thirteen white stars, denoting a new constellation."
Franklin and Adams added the following observation in their letter to the Ambassador of Naples: "Some of the States have vessels of war distinct from those of the United States. For example, the vessels of war of the State of Massachusetts Bay have sometimes a pine tree; and those of South Carolina a rattlesnake, in the middle of the thirteen stripes. Merchant ships have often only thirteen stripes, but the flag of the United States, ordained by Congress, is the thirteen stripes and thirteen stars above described." The letters between Franklin and Adams and the Ambassador of Naples were transcribed in The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Volume II, pages 759-760, published in 1889 by the Government Printing Office.