History of the American Flag By Scott Burroughs
History of Flags • Flags were initially used as a means of battlefield identification • They later began to be used for long distance communication • Starting in the 17th century, it became customary for ships to fly a standard denoting their country of origin (An Ensign or Jack) • Denmark’s Flag is the oldest national Flag (13th Century)
English Flags St. George’s Flag (England) St. Andrew’s Flag (Scotland) Death of Queen Elizabeth and Ascension of King James VII of Scotland becomes King James I of England (1603) Union Flag (King’s Colors)
Flags in the American Colonies • The Union Flag was limited for use by the Royal Navy, although it was used in the colonies • Other Flags were used to represent the colonies • Pine Trees were a common symbol, since timber was a main colonial export, thus the pine tree flag became common among militia units • Ships still needed an ensign, and the sailors of New England developed one to represent them
One Flag to Rule Them All With the Expansion of the British Empire in the America’s, The East Indies and India, one flag was needed to denote all British Colonial Ships. In 1707, at the request of Queen Anne, the Red Colonial Ensign became the first National Flag Queen Anne’s Flag
Seeds of Discontent • As Discontent Grew in the Colonies, changes were seen in flags • Despite rising tensions, most Americans still considered themselves British • George Washington, being appointed Commander in Chief designated a new Flag, Representing the 13 American British Colonies Taunton Flag Grand Union Flag
Snake in the Grass • The rattlesnake has been associated with America both in the colonies and Europe • Referenced by Ben Franklin in his “Join, or Die” cartoon to promote the Albany Plan of Union (1754) • The Coiled Rattlesnake was used to display the ferociousness of the men serving under it Gadsen Flag Culpeper Flag
Flag Act of 1777 The Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution June 14th, 1777 Resolved, “That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation”
All those Constellations Betsy Ross Flag Guilford Courthouse Flag Bennington Flag Hopkin’s Flag Serapis Flag Hubert Flag Cowpens Flag
O’ Say can you See • The United States was an expanding nation, and following the addition of Vermont and Kentucky as the 14th and 15th State, Congress updated the design to reflect the 15 states. • In addition to adding two stars, two stripes were added as well • This flag design would be the US flag for the next 23 years.
The Star Spangled Banner Flag • Major George Armistead upon taking command of Fort McHenry ordered a new Garrison and Storm Flag that was “so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it” • Sewn by Mary Pickersgill, her daughter and nieces as well as several others and was paid $405.90 for the two flags • Flag measured 30X42 feet • Flag was donated to the Smithsonian in 1912, and is displayed in the National Museum of American History
The Flag of Manifest Destiny • Following the War of 1812, there were 20 states in the union, and in 1818, Congress ammended the existing Flag act • There are 13 stripes on the flag to represent the 13 colonies • One Star in the field of Blue to represent each state • New Stars would be added on July 4th following the addition of any new state 20 Star Flag 24 Star Flag 30 Star Flag
“And the south wind blew on that Ragged Old Flag” • During the Civil War, The Union flag reamined unchanged, except for the number of Stars • 33 Star Flag from 1859-1861 • 34 Star Flag from 1861-1863 • 35 Star Flag from 1863-1865 • There were no design standards for the arrangement of stars
Confederate Flags Stars and Bars Stainless Banner Bloody Banner Bonnie Blue Flag Battle Flag
Calvary Guidons • In 1834, congress authorized used of Guidons as a way to detemine units • Calvary Units, the army scouts used a swallowtail shaped flag with a Red top and White bottom. With both the Union and Confederate Calvary deriving it’s military tradions from the antebellum US Army, both sides used red and white calvaryflags at the out set of the civil war.
US Flag Code • Signed by Executive order of President Taft, it allowed for the specific dimensions and layout of the stars, stripes and union. • It is codified into law in 1942, and all subsequent changes to the flag require an act of congress.
Flags of the 20th Century • The 48 and 50 star flags were the longest used designs in our country’s history 48 Star (1912-1959) 50 Star (1960-Present)