Little Bits of History

US Flag

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 4, 2010

20 star flag

April 4, 1818: The US Congress adopts the US flag design having 13 red and white stripes, beginning and ending with red. A field of blue with 20 stars, one for each state is in the upper left corner. A provision for adding stars as more states are included in the union. The first US flag was established on June 14, 1777 and it, too, consisted of the thirteen red and white stripes with the field of blue in the upper left hand corner. However there were fewer stars and they were arranged in a circular pattern.

By 1794 there were fifteen states. The flag was altered to have 15 stripes and 15 stars in the circular pattern. By 1818, it was obvious that the additional stripes were going to be a problem. Therefore, the stripes went back to the original thirteen for the original number of colonies and the stars would increase as the country grew. All flag changes begin on July 4.

There have been many other flags as the country has grown. In 1819 the flag had 21 stars and by 1820, there were 23; by 1822 with Missouri added to the Union, there were 24. The next fourteen changes each added one star, one state and by 1977 there were 38 stars. In 1890 the count jumped to 43 and by 1912, the count was 48. That flag lasted the longest until Alaska and Hawaii were add in 1959 and 1960, respectively. There have been fifty stars for fifty years now.

The naval jack is different from the US flag. From 1960 – 2002 it consisted of the blue portion of the flag with the stars emblazoned on it. It was flown on Navy vessels. After 2002, the Navy Jack from 1775-1776 was put back into use. It is the red and white striping with a snake across it and the words “Dont Tread On Me” spelled out on the last white stripe. This flag is currently flown on US Navy ships, however Coast Guard and NOAA ships still use the blue jack with 50 stars.

“We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty.” – George Washington

“A patriot wraps himself around the flag to defend it; a scoundrel wraps it around himself to defend himself.” – unknown

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, Here once the embattl’d farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“(The Pledge was) born out of my own love of the flag and for all the lofty Americanism it represented.” – Francis Bellamy, author of the Pledge of Allegiance

Also on this day, in 1721 Robert Walpole became the first Prime Minister of Great Britain.

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