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The History of the US Flag

Written by Jimmy Rustling

The present American flag is the twenty-seventh iteration of the national flag. When the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence from the British, a flag was needed to symbolize the patriot cause and mobilize people for the Revolution.

The first “official” flag was “the Continental Colors,” also known as the “Grand Union Flag,” which had thirteen red and white stripes with the United Kingdom’s flag in the upper-left corner, also known as the canton.

It was the same pattern as the British East India Company’s flag, which flew from 1701 until 1801. The flag was used by the Continental Army until 1777. So how did we get from that to the patriotic flags that everyone knows today?

The Legend of Betsy Ross

The Betsy Ross flag was an early design for the United States flag. It had 13 stars instead of the 50 found on the present flag, as well as white and red stripes. The actual origins of this flag have been a source of contention over the years, with some claiming that Ross designed it.

Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia upholsterer, is said to have created the original American flag. The probably mythical claim that General George Washington conferred with Ross on the design of a new flag in June 1776, and she convinced him to change the stars from six-pointed to the easier-to-sew five-pointed gained hold in the national patriotic imagination.

There is no evidence for this story, but it is a popular and well-known legend that is broadly accepted as history, and there is a certain charm to that kind of myth.

The Origins of Flag Day

The first Flag Resolution was voted by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The “Stars and Stripes” were officially accepted as the national flag in this resolution, which states:

Resolved That the Flag of the united states be 13 stripes alternate red and white, that the Union be 13 stars white in a blue field representing a new constellation.

Because of this resolution, June 14th is designated as Flag Day. Flags with various “constellations” exist since the resolution did not define the placement of the stars. The stars on the “Betsy Ross” flag are arranged in a circular design. Some of the early designs arrange the stars in a star pattern, for example!

The modern pattern of stars has only become fixed in much more recent years, thanks to the need to fit more stars on the flag.

The Second and Third Flag Act

A second Flag Act was signed in 1794. Two extra stars and two more stripes were added to the design in this resolution to represent the admission of Vermont and Kentucky to the Union. Even after five additional states were admitted to the Union, this flag remained in use.

The third Flag Act, passed in 1818, established the pattern of adding another star to the flag after each state’s admission to the Union. Furthermore, the number of stripes was lowered from fifteen to thirteen as a result of this measure.

The present flag, which has fifty stars, has not altered since Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union in 1959. This is the flag’s most common version and the one you’ll see in most paces.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.