Archive for the ‘20-star flag’ Tag

US Flag: The Third   8 comments

The first US Flag was authorized by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.  That flag had 13 stars & 13 stripes … if you haven’t read my post on that topic, the link is below.  The fact that this resolution was passed on June 14 is why we now celebrate Flag Day on that day.

Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.

The second US Flag was authorized by the Flag Act of 1794, and it had 15 stripes and 15 stars.  That flag would last for 24 years, and see 5 more states enter into the Union before a new law was passed.

An Act making an alteration in the Flag of the United States.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, That from and after the first day of May, Anno Domini, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five, the flag of the United States, be fifteen stripes alternate red and white. That the Union be fifteen stars, white in a blue field.

In 1818, after five more states had been admitted, Congress finally passed a new resolution governing the design of a third US flag … as well as subsequent flags

An Act to establish the flag of the United States.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress Assembled, That from and after the fourth day of July next, the flag of the United States be thirteen horizontal stripes, alternate red and white: that the union be twenty stars, white in a blue field.

And be it further enacted, That on the admission of every new state into the Union, one star be added to the union of the flag; and that such addition shall take effect of the fourth day of July then next succeeding such admission.

US Flag - 20 Stars

The 20 star flag served for just one year, as Illinois became our 21st star in 1819.

30 stars have been added to this flag.  The 50-star version was designed by a student in Ohio in 1958.

Curiosities

Lincoln did not alter the flag after the Confederate states seceded from the US.  He did not feel their secession was legal; we fought the Civil War to ensure 1861’s 33-star flag would continue to be our flag.

Though the number of stars did not change, their color did!  Many Civil War-era flags used gold stars in the blue field of the flag, as opposed to the more common, specified, white stars.  Even though the number of stars and stripes was specified by the 1818 law, the arrangement of those stars was not codified until Roosevelt signed the US Flag Code in 1942.

There are anecdotal stories of flags with gold stripes that were produced in the early- to mid- 20th century.  These flags may or may not have been produced by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Depot in Philadelphia (records show they were discussed and recommended by that group).  However, there was never any approval and these flags are not in compliance with the 1818 law or the 1942 code that governs the design of the US flag.

There was no official pattern for the stars on the flag until the adoption of the 48-star flag in 1912.  The Army and Navy did use standardized designs, but there was variation between flags based on personal preference.

This alternative design of a 36-star flag could have been used from July 4, 1865 until July 3, 1867. A 37-star flag was introduced on July 4, 1867.

This alternative design of a 36-star flag could have been used from July 4, 1865 until July 3, 1867. A 37-star flag was introduced on July 4, 1867.

A flag protection movement surged in the late 1800’s, but failed to win federal legislation.  States began to pass their own laws on how to treat the US flag, and by 1932, all states had adopted flag desecration laws.

These laws were superseded by the US Flag Code which was ratified in 1942.  The US Supreme Court has since ruled that freedom of speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, trumps any flag desecration laws. The Flag Code is a guide to how citizens should treat the US flag: there are no penalties for not following the Code.

The current 50-star flag has been the US flag the longest of the 27 different flags that have waved over the United States.  The flag with the second longest tenure was the 48-star flag, which was the US flag for 47 years, 1912 – 1959.

The 50-star flag became the official US flag on July 4, 1960: the first July 4th after Hawaii was admitted to the union.

The 50-star flag became the official US flag on July 4, 1960: the first July 4th after Hawaii was admitted to the union.

More

US Flag: The First

US Flag: The Second

US Flag: The Snake Flags

Our Flag, from the US Government Printing Office

Flag Depot’s Excellent Timeline of The 27 US Flags

Robert G Heft, Designer of our 50 Star Flag

Gold Stripes on WWII Casket Flags?

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