History Of The American Flag Explained


History Of The American Flag Explained

History Of The American Flag Explained


On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag of the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: "Resolved, that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."

It was on January 1, 1776, that the Continental Army was restructured and adjusted according to a Congressional resolution which heralded American forces to the command of George Washington. On that day, the American Continental Army was blockading Boston which had been taken over by the British army. It has been said that the first American flag was made in May of 1776 by Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress who was actually a friend of George Washington and acquainted with other prominent and high-ranking Philadelphians.



When Vermont joined the Union in 1791, followed by Kentucky the next year, the United States found itself with 15 states, but only 13 stars and 13 stripes on the national flag. A debate followed in Congress over whether the 1777 flag should serve as a permanent national flag, or whether the number of stars and stripes should be changed to reflect the number of states in the Union. In January 1794, lawmakers settled the question by adopting a new flag with 15 stripes and a blue union of 15 stars. Since the legislation creating the new flag was silent as to the placement of the stars, different arrangements were used by various flag makers. The most famous is that consisting of five staggered rows of three stars, as shown on the famous Fort McHenry flag that inspired the writing of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1814.


Ross suggested that the five-pointed star be used instead of the star with six points. This is because the five-pointed star can be cut off easily with a few trims of the scissors. It is also said that Betsy Ross was the one who made the flags for the Pennsylvanian navy. However, the first unofficial flag of America was called the Grand Union Flag, also known as the Continental Colors. It was raised at the order and command of General Washington close to his headquarters outside Boston January 1, 1776. This first unofficial flag was composed of thirteen alternating white and red horizontal stripes, with the British Union Flag in the canton. However, the first official American flag was accepted by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. This flag was also known as the Stars and Stripes for it consisted of 13 stars which represented the first 13 colonies. However, there is no assurance of who actually designed and made this flag. It is said that it was Francis Hopkinson, a Continental Congress member, designed the flag.


However, between 1777 and 1960, Congress implemented procedures that varied its shape, design, and structure of the flag. And it was decided that there was a need for additional starts to represent all the states of America. It was on January 3, 1959, that President Eisenhower issued an executive order which states that the arrangement of the stars should be in six horizontal rows of eight, every single point of every star directed upward. In 1791 and 1792, after Kentucky and Vermont were added to the Union, two stars and two stripes were added during 1795.



On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed The Flag Resolution which stated: “It is resolved that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternated red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” For this reason, we now celebrate Flag Day (link to Flag Flying Holidays page?) on every June 14th. This official original American Flag had 13 stripes and 13 stars to represent the original 13 colonies which included: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.


This brought inspiration to lawyer Francis Scott Key to write and compose a poem that later became the U.S. National Anthem. It was in 1818 that five more states had been added and declared and Congress decided to pass legislation that fixes the number of stars and stripes.


On this day in 1818, President James Monroe signed a law that called for 13 stripes plus one star for each state, to be added on the July 4 that follows that state’s admission to the Union.


The stars would have equal numbers as the states. On July 4, 1960, the last new star was added after Hawaii became a state, which gives a total number of fifty stars. The American Flag has been the emblem of the nation's power and harmony for more than 200 years. It serves as the binding material that brings millions of citizens together in attaining one goal.



Sources:

https://www.usflagstore.com/american_flag_history_1776_to_present_s/2205.htm

https://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/flags/category/united-states/u.s.-flag-1795-1818


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