The History of the US Flag

Known as Old Glory, the United States flag is a symbol of freedom and democracy. The flag is recognized worldwide as a banner of Americanism. The American flag has been a huge source of inspiration for American citizens as well as aliens who desire to become citizens of our great nation.

In today’s post, I am going to go through the history of the US Flag. This way, you will understand how and why our flag is so revered.

Just Before The Revolution

As Patriots were meeting about the problems of British taxation but no representation, flags were a part of recognizing the new country’s resources. While the primary flag had not yet been instituted, in 1775, ships within the New England area flew a flag showing a pine tree with the words: An Appeal To Heaven.

The Continental Navy flew a flag with stripes and a snake with the inscription: Don’t Tread On Me.

There was also a Son’s of Liberty flag, a New England flag and other flags. Flags were a way to show respect, loyalty and adoration. So, with the aspect of being a free and democratic nation, in 1776, a new flag was displayed on Prospect Hill. It was called the Grand Union Flag, and had 13 alternate red and white stripes with the British Union Jack in the upper left corner. It was a start, but the patriots knew there needed to be a more unique design.

The First Flag

Designed by Francis Hopkinson who was a lawyer and Congressman along with being a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the new flag would have the same 13 stripes, but instead of the British Union Jack, it would have 13 stars that would represent a new constellation.

It is believed that Betsy Ross sewed the first flag.

Starting with 13 stars representing the original 13 States, the design went through various changes on the placements of the stars.

Flag Changes

We will go through a basic United States flag timeline:

1776: The flag Betsy sewed had the 13 stars in a circular pattern.

1777: A different 13 star flag was made with a 3-2-3-2-3 star pattern.

1777: Known as the Cowpens flag, it had 1 star in the middle and 12 stars surrounding. It hangs in the Maryland State House.

1777: The flag sewed by Betsy was adopted as the official flag in June.

For the next several years, several instances of using flags with designs that were unique but similar were found.

  • The John Paul Jones flag

  • The Guilford flag

1795: With the additions of Vermont and Kentucky as States, 2 stars were added making the star count 15.

1814: It was in this year that Francis Scott Key is in admiration of the flag and writes what would become our National Anthem: The Star Spangled Banner.

At this point, the changes would primarily be the additions of more stars as States were inducted into the nation.

1818: 20 stars with the addition of Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana and Mississippi.

1819: 21 stars with the addition of Illinois.

1820: 23 stars when Alabama and Maine are added.

1822: Missouri means 24 stars.

1836: 25 stars with Arkansas becoming a State.

1837: Michigan makes 26 stars.

1845: Florida makes 27.

1846: We welcome Texas for 28 stars.

1847: Iowa makes 29.

1848-1867: More States were added, and even though the South seceded, President Lincoln ordered the same stars stay. By 1867, there were 37 stars.

1876: It had been 100 years since the Declaration of Independence. A flag with stars in the form 1776 1876 was made.

1877: Colorado was added making 38 stars.

1889: Flags were made this year that would never be official. Some thought that the Dakotas would be one State and made a flag with 39 stars.

1890-1891: The flag jumped to 44 stars.

1892: The Pledge of Allegiance was first published.

1896: Utah adds the 45th star.

1897: Flag desecration laws were adopted.

1908: 46 stars with Oklahoma jumping aboard.

1912: New Mexico and Arizona are added making 48 stars. Also President Taft signs an Executive Order prescribing the flag dimensions and proportions.

1959-1960: Alaska and Hawaii are both admitted giving us 50 stars.

1969: Neil Armstrong puts the flag on the moon.

There have been many court cases in regards to flag desecration. It is a touchy subject. Personally, I believe anyone who wants to desecrate our flag should be put on a boat and not allowed to enter the United States again, but that is just my opinion.

Final Thoughts

I reside in Puerto Rico and I am wondering when the vote for this island to become a State will be a reality adding a 51st star.

Any predictions?

What are your thoughts about our flag, desecration and the history? You can post comments below. Thank you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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