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Mrs. Ross made the flag after a rough drawing explained to her by General Washington, during the year 1776, for the use of the committee of Congress "appointed to design a suitable flag for the nation.” After its adoption by Congress Mrs. Ross was for many years engaged in making flags for the Government.
The National Flag of the United States is a growth rather than a creation. It is not known with any degree of accuracy by whom the stars were first suggested. Some ascribe their suggestion to John Adams, while others maintain that the design of the whole flag was borrowed from the arms borne by the Washington family. The earliest recorded suggestion of stars as a device is found published March 10, 1774, in the "Massachusetts Spy," in a song written for the anniversary of the Boston Massacre of the 5th of March .
Still another origin is claimed for the National Flag, it being asserted that the blue field was taken from the banner of the Scottish Covenanters, and is, therefore, significant of “the League and Covenant of the United States against oppression.”
The thirteen stars on the blue canton in the flag of 1777 were arranged in a circle, although no special form for their disposition was officially prescribed. The stars were probably disposed in a circle to symbolize the perpetuity of the new Nation, as well as the equality which existed among the States. The National Flag in this form continued unchanged until May 1, 1795. In the year before, Senator Bradley of Vermont, whose own State, on March 4, 1791, as also Kentucky on June 1, 1792, had been admitted to the Union, introduced a bill, which passed Congress and was approved January 13, 1794, as follows:
“Be it enacted, etc., That from and after the first day of May, 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.”
This flag floated throughout the war of 1812-14.
The admission of the states of Tennessee, June 1, 1796; Ohio, November 29, 1802; Louisiana, April 30, 1812; Indiana, December 11, 1816, and Mississippi, December 10, 1817, made a change in the Flag necessary. A committee of Congress, appointed to inquire into the expediency of altering the Flag, reported a bill on the 2d day of January, 1817, and a long debate ensued. The
bill was passed during the session of 1818 and was approved April 4, 1818. It reads as follows:
"AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES.
"SECTION 1. Be it enacted, etc., 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 have twenty stars, white in a blue field.
“SEC. 2. 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 on the fourth of July next succeeding such admission."
Stars were added to the constellation as new states were added to the Union in the following order: Illinois, on December 3, 1818, was the first state to be admitted after adopting the flag, and following came Alabama, December 14, 1819; Maine, March 15, 1820; Missouri, August 10, 1821 ; Arkansas, June 15, 1836 ; Michigan, January 26, 1837; Florida, March 3, 1845; Texas, December 29, 1845; Iowa, December 28, 1846; Wisconsin, May 29, 1848; California, September 9, 1830; Minnesota, May 11, 1858; Oregon, February 14, 1859; Kansas, January 29, 1861 ; West Virginia, June 19, 1863; Nevada, October 31, 1864 ; Nebraska, March 1, 1867; Colorado, August 1, 1876; North Dakota, November 3, 1889; South Dakota, November 3, 1889; Montana, November 8, 1889; Washington, November 11, 1889; Idaho, July 3, 1890 ; Wyoming, July 10, 1890 ; Utah, January 4, 1896; Oklahoma, November 16, 1907; New Mexico, January 6, 1912; Arizona, February 14, 1912; thus altering the Flag from time to time, until it now contains forty-eight stars.
Navy and Army Regulations.
After the establishment of the Flag in 1818, the following circulars were issued :
“Navy COMMISSIONERS' OFFICE, May 18, 1818. “SIR: The Navy Commissioners have to inform you that agreeably to the Act of Congress of the 4th day of April, 1818, entitled, 'An Act to establish the Flag of the United States,' our National Flag is, from and after the 4th day of July next, io be: Thirteen horizontal stripes, alternate red and white. The union to be twenty stars, white in a blue field; one star to be added on the admission into the Union of every new State ; such addition to be made from and after the 4th of July next succeeding the date of such admission.
“The size of the flag must be in the proportion of fourteen feet in width and twenty-four feet in length, the field of the union must be one third of the length of the flag, and seven thirteenths of its depth, so that from the top to the bottom of the
union there will be seven stripes, and six stripes from the bottom of the union to the bottom of the flag. The manner of arranging the stars you will perceive by the subjoined sketch. The upper and the lower stripes to be red.
"JNO. RODGERS, President.
"To the officer comma
manding, Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N. H." This was amended by the following circular:
“NAVY COMMISSIONERS' OFFICE, September 18, 1818. "SIR: Since our circular of the 18th of May last, relative to
the Flag to be worn by the vessels of the United States and at our naval stations, it has been determined by the President of the United States that the arrangement of the stars shall correspond with the pattern stated below, and the
relative proportions of the Flag to continue as stated in our circular. You will govern yourself accordingly.
“On the first hoisting of the flag, you are to fire a salute of twenty guns. “I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
“President of the Navy Board. “CAPTAIN MORRIS, Portsmouth.”
The following Executive Order for the information and guidance of the Naval Service was published July 25, 1912:
"EXECUTIVE ORDER. “Union Jacks: The size of the Jack shall be the size of the Union of the National Flag with which it is flown.
“Number of Stars: All National Flags having hoist less than five (5) feet, except colors to be carried by troops, and the corresponding Jacks, shall have only thirteen (13) stars in the Union, in order that the identity of the stars may be plainly distinguishable.
“Position and size of Stars: The position and size of each star for Unions of forty-eight (48) and thirteen (13) stars, respectively, shall be as indicated on blueprint of a plan which will be furnished to the Departments by the Navy Department. From this plan can be determined the location and size of stars for flags of any dimensions. Extra blueprints of this plan will be furnished upon application to the Navy Department.
“Order effective: All National Flags and Union Jacks now on hand or for which contracts have been awarded shall be continued in use until unserviceable, but all those manufactured or purchased for Government use after July 4, 1912, shall conform strictly to the dimensions and proportions herein prescribed. "The color of the field of the President's Flag shall be blue.
“WM. H. TAFT. “THE WHITE HOUSE,
June 24, 1912.” Arrangement of Stars in American Flag, Effective July 4, 1912.
“220. The garrison, post, and storm flags are National Flags, and shall be of bunting. The union of each is as described in paragraph 213, and shall be one third the length of the Flag.
“The garrison flag will have 33 feet fly and 20 feet hoist. It will be furnished only to posts designated in orders from time to time from the War Department, and will be hoisted only on holidays and important occasions.
“The post flag will have 20 feet fly and 10 feet hoist. It will be furnished for all garrisoned posts, and will be hoisted in pleasant weather.
"The storm flag will have 8 feet fly and 4 feet 2 inches hoist. It will be furnished for all occupied posts for use in stormy weather. It will also be furnished to national cemeteries and recruiting stations."
Many are the poetic and beautiful interpretations of the subtle meaning lying behind the stars and stripes of our national emblem.
While some such interpretations might surprise, yet many would doubtless delight the original designers of “Old Glory,” but so long as it shall "wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave,” will the immortal poem of Francis Scott Key stir the heart of every true American to patriotic fervor.
Francis Scott Key, the author of "The Star-Spangled Banner,”. was born in Frederick County, Maryland, August 9, 1780, and died in Baltimore, January 11, 1843.
The phrase “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice to all,” which is repeated by pupils in the public schools, originated with the late J. B. Upham, of Boston, Massachusetts, who was the originator and chief promoter of the School Flag Movement. Chronicles of the Flag.
The Flag of the United States at the time of the Revolution had thirteen stars; in the War of 1812, fifteen stars; in the Mexican War, twenty-nine stars; in the Civil War, thirty-five stars; and in the Spanish-American War, forty-five stars.
Raised for the first time over Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill, Boston, August 24, 1824.
The twin-screw steam schooner “Midas" was the first American steamer to carry the Flag around Cape of Good Hope for China, in 1844.
The bark “Edith” was the first auxiliary screw steamer under the American Flag that went to the British Indies.
She was launched in 1844, and sailed from New York January 18, 1845. She was afterwards chartered by, and finally sold to, the War Department, and sent to California, where she was transferred to the Navy, and lost off the coast of Santa Barbara.
The first American propeller packet ship to carry our Flag to England was the “Massachusetts." She was launched at East