A Brief History - The United States Flag
Legend has it that Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag in May of 1776. This flag is one of the most well-known, as it had the circle of white stars in the blue union.This was not the first official flag, though. On June 14, 1777, that the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act. The US flag was to have thirteen stripes, alternating red and white and a field of thirteen stars, arranged on a blue background as the union. These stars represented a new constellation. Americans celebrate June 14, or Flag Day, as the birth of this beautiful symbol.
Between 1777 and 1912, the flag changed many different times. In 1795, the design changed to 15 stripes and stars. In 1818, it went back to 13 stripes and a star for each state. The design would change on July 4th of the following year as states were added. The Flag Act did not specify dimensions and proportions of the flag. Until 1912, it was left to the discretion of the flag maker. This is why you will see unusual arrangements of stars in historic flags.
In 1912, President Taft established the proportions of the flag by an Executive Order. The arrangement of the stars was also recognized as six horizontal rows of eight each. A single point of the star would be upward. After the addition of Alaska and Hawaii, President Eisenhower changed the star arrangement to be nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows staggered vertically.
The stripes represent the original thirteen colonies, and the stars represent the 50 states. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well, although there is some debate about this. The colors in the Stars and Stripes were not attributed to any symbol in the original act. It was the creation of the Great Seal that identified the symbolic nature of the colors of red, white, and blue. According to Charles Thompson, the Secretary of the Continental Congress, in his report to Congress about the Great Seal:
"The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness &valor, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice."
No matter what reason the colors came to signify these values, the American flag is one of the most recognized icons in the world. It symbolizes freedom and patriotism.
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With a passion for perfectly executed parties, Carl writes about event planning and the wedding industry. You may read more on his event tents blog.
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