A Brief History of the American Flag
America has a long and storied history. That’s what you get when a country has been around for centuries now! And so does the flag that flies above all the important government buildings.
But, what do you actually know about the so-called Star-Spangled Banner? Read on to learn about the history of the American flag.
The Origins of the American Flag
Originally, the American colonies used a flag that was derivative of the British flag at the time. When America declared its independence in 1776, the new country used the Grand Union flag as its official symbol. This flag continued to contain England’s Union Jack.
The common story behind the modern American flag is that it was sewn together by the seamstress Betsy Ross. However, the claims surrounding Betsy Ross have since been disputed. Others have claimed that Rebecca Young and Grace Fisher were actually the ones who sewed together the first version of the American flag.
The flag is believed to have been originally designed by Francis Hopkinson, a congressman from New Jersey. Hopkinson is also known for signing the Declaration of Independence.
The first iteration of the American flag, which. sometimes referred to as “Old Glory”, was established by Congress as the official flag by the Flag Resolution in June of 1777. The flag got its nickname from the owner of the original, William Driver. This resolution also signaled the beginning of Flag Day, which is held each year on the 14th of June.
Each stripe on the original flag represented one of the original thirteen colonies. The original thirteen colonies were New York, Virginia, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, New Hampshire, and Georgia.
The colors of the flag also have a story to tell. The red is meant to symbolize valor and hardiness, the ethos of bootstraps. The blue is meant to symbolize perseverance in the face of adversity, and justice in the face of injustice. The white is meant to symbolize purity, the birth of a new nation.
The exact shades of red, white, and blue contained in the flag are regulated by the State Department so that the colors are standardized for every American flag across the country.
The Evolution of the American Flag
There have been multiple iterations of the American flag as the country has grown and changed. Of course, the American Civil War caused some controversy regarding the American flag.
Congress has passed various acts to control the number of stripes and stars legally portrayed on each version of the American Flag. In 1794, the next flag act was issued. This changed the number of stripes on the flag from the original thirteen up to fifteen, to include the additional states of Virginia and Kentucky. It also included fifteen stars, so that the number of stripes and stars were the same.
The next amendment to the flag occurred with the Flag Act of 1818. This act cut the number of stripes back down to thirteen. This act also created the rule that the number of stars should match the number of states currently included in the United States.
This rule means that if a new state was added to the union, another star would be added to the flag. This has become important with recent pushes for statehood for Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. If theoretically, a state were to leave the union, a star would also have to be removed from the flag.
The last two changes to the flag occurred in 1959 and 1960 respectively. These changes occurred when Alaska and Hawaii joined the United States, respectively.
The American Flag Today
Today’s American flag contains six white stripes and seven red stripes, for a total of thirteen stripes. These stripes represent the original thirteen states in the American colonies.
In some locations, it’s required for the American flag to be displayed twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. These include national monuments such as Fort McHenry and the Washington Monument. This also includes borders and ports of entry. This is also required in some government buildings, including the White House.
Certain locations also need to ensure that the flag is raised at full mast on particular days. These days include Martin Luther King Day, New Year’s Day, President Lincoln’s birthday, President Washington’s birthday, Navy Day, and Mothers’ Day. And, after tragedies or on days of mourning, the flag must be kept at half-mast in order to show respect to the lives that have been lost.
If you’d like to display an American flag in your own yard, make sure you check out the best flag pole suppliers so that your flag can flap properly and proudly in the wind. You should also check and ensure that your flag is properly secured to your flag pole so that it doesn’t fly away when the weather gets too bad.
You can also pair the American flag with other great flags. These could include the flags for your specific state or municipality. It could also include flags for other groups you’re a member of, such as the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag.
The History of the American Flag: Now You Know
Hopefully, you now understand something about the history of the American flag. But, there’s so much more out there for you to learn about the intricacies of American history.
Are you searching for more information on historical topics? Take a scroll through some of our other posts for more.
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