Happy Independence Day!
Flag Facts for the Fourth
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress formally adopted the United States Declaration of Independence. The American Revolutionary War, which began in 1775, continued until 1783 when the British Empire abandoned their claim to the United States. Like the war, the American flag took many years to become what flies so proudly today. Here are some parts of that journey:
- During the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on June 14, 1777, the following resolution was adopted:
Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.
The resolution was vague on instructions such as how the stars should be arranged and how many points the stars should have. This caused flags to be created differently across the 13 states with some flags scattering the stars without any specific design and others arranging the stars in rows or circles. The stars were also not consistent as some had six points and others had eight.
- Elizabeth (Betsy) Ross made flags for over 50 years and is cited as making the first Stars and Stripes although no proof actually exists that hers was the first. Many other patriots created flags for the new Nation as well: Cornelia Bridges and Rebecca Young of Pennsylvania, and John Shaw of Annapolis, Maryland.
- As new states were added to the Union, a new bill was accepted by President Monroe on April 4, 1818, requiring that the flag of the United States have a union of 20 stars, white on a blue field, and that upon admission of each new State into the Union one star be added to the union of the flag on the fourth of July following its date of admission. The 13 alternating red and white stripes would remain unchanged.
- By 1912, the stars totaled 48 with the last two stars being added in 1959 (Alaska) and 1960 (Hawaii). Executive Order No. 10834 issued by President Eisenhower on August 21, 1959, created a new arrangement of the 50 stars which became the official flag of the United States which still flies today. The flag was raised for the first time at 12:01 a.m. on July 4, 1960, at the Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, Maryland.