History of the American Flag

Interested in the history of the American flag? Find out about the historical development of the official American flag…

A long standing symbol of solidarity, the American flag has been around for more than 200 years. It is a source of nationalistic pride and inspired the citizens of the USA for decades. There is a wonderful history behind the creation of this iconic symbol of American identity.

The first American flag

As the decade long battle raged between the Continental Army and the Loyalist supporters of the British Empire, there was a clear need for a solid nationalistic identity. In January 1776, the Continental Army was restructured to conform to the doctrines of a Congressional resolution which united all the American forces under George Washington.

This New Year’s Day the Continental Army took over the city of Boston back from the British Army. When General Washington ordered hoisting of the Grand Union flag above his base at Prospect Hill this flag had 13 alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner of the fragment. General Washington himself commissioned Betsy Ross a seamstress who specialized in designing flags and she presented the Colonists with the first American flag in May of 1776.

In June 1777 the first official FLAG ACT was passed and it states the basic initial design of the flag which consists of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; and the union be depicted by thirteen stars, white on a blue base and this represented a new Constellation.

American Flag Development

Several acts were passed during the years 1777 and 1960 each altering the flag with the addition of new stars and stripes to welcome each state that joined in the Constellation. By January 13, 1794 there were 15 stripes and 15 stars. In the Act of April 4, 1818 – there were 3 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July for the introduction of a new state, this was signed by President Monroe.

By the Executive Order of President Taft on June 24, 1912 – the proportions governing the flag were anointed. The basic structure to be followed uniformly was the arrangement of six stars in each row totaling 8 rows and one point of the star facing upwards. By the Executive Order of President Eisenhower January 3, 1959 the stars were placed in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered both horizontally and vertically. And by the Executive Order of President Eisenhower of August 21, 1959 – these stars were in 9 rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

With this great history and timely incorporation of states as they came along, the American flag has truly evolved with the times allowing and welcoming nationalism, patriotism, unity and pride from its citizens. Today this flag stands proud on its mast with thirteen horizontal stripes, with seven red alternating with six white ones. The stripes are an ode to the initial thirteen colonies where as the stars depict the states. The symbolic colors of the stripes reflect Hardiness and Valor through Red, Purity and Innocence through White and Justice, Vigilance, Perseverance through Blue.

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