US Flag: The Second   9 comments

President George Washington signed into law the Flag Act of 1794. It changed the design of the US flag … we now had 15 states with the addition of Vermont and Kentucky, and needed an updated flag.

Five Presidents served under this flag: George Washington (1789-1797), John Adams (1797-1801), Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), James Madison (1809-1817), and James Monroe (1817-1825)

This flag had 15 stripes and 15 stars, and would be the Star Spangled Banner seen by Francis Scott Key flying over Fort McHenry in 1814. Note that the circle of stars is gone … so perhaps in 1794, at least, the design of the Hopkinson flag was preferred over the Betsy Ross and Cowpens flags?

The Star Spangled Banner flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes.

The Star Spangled Banner flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes.

"By Dawn's Early Light" is the 1912 painting by Edward Moran showing Francis Scott Key on the morning of September 14th, 1814.

“By Dawn’s Early Light” is the 1912 painting by Edward Moran showing Francis Scott Key on the morning of September 14th, 1814.

Key wrote the poem that become The Star Spangled Banner on the back of a letter he had in his pocket (see below!).  The song was later set to a popular British tune, “The Anacreontic Song.”  It was officially designated our national anthem by a congressional resolution, signed by Herbert Hoover in 1931.

The Star Spangled Banner

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Francis Scott Key's original manuscript of his "Star-Spangled Banner" poem. It is now on display at the Maryland Historical Society.

Francis Scott Key’s original manuscript of his “Star-Spangled Banner” poem. It is now on display at the Maryland Historical Society.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

More

The Smithsonian on the battle-scarred flag

Wikipedia on The Star Spangled Banner

US Flag: The First

US Flag: The Third

US Flag: The Snake Flags

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