Slideshow: In Honor of Flag Day, The History of Old Glory
1776: Betsy Ross Flag
Betsy Ross designed this flag during the American Revolution. It features thirteen stars and stripes. The Ross flag is notable because of the arrangement of the stars in a circle. Tradition dates it to July 4, 1776, when George Washington and a committee visited Betsy and suggested a design. Ross agreed to make the flag, but replaced the committee's proposed six-pointed stars with five-pointed stars.
1777: The First Official U.S. Flag
This 13-Star Flag became the Official Flag of the United States on June 14th, 1777. The June 14th date was later designated by President Woodrow Wilson as Flag Day. In this flag's design, both the stars and stripes represent the thirteen original colonies, which had been created under the Declaration of Independence just one year prior.
1777: Bennington Flag
The Bennington Flag gets its name from the American Revolution Battle of Bennington, which took place on August 16, 1777. Similar to the other flags of the American Revolution, the Bennington Flag displays thirteen stars and stripes. Notable features of this flag include the large '76' in the canton, and white (rather than red) outermost stripes. Another distinctive feature of the Bennington flag is that its stars have seven points, rather than five.
1795: Star Spangled Banner
This flag, known as the Star Spangled Banner, was adopted on May 1, 1795. Its two additional stars represented the admission of Vermont (1791) and Kentucky (1792). The Banner was the only U.S. Flag to have more than 13 stripes, and it is immortalized in Francis Scott Key's national anthem. The original flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, inspiring Key, is now preserved in the Smithsonian Museum.
1818: The Great Star Flag
It was Captain Samuel Chester Reid, U.S.N. at the request of Congressman Peter H. Wendover of New York, who originally proposed a flag that would return to thirteen stripes, and add one star for each new state. Reid's original design shaped the stars into one larger star, shown here. When Reid's design came before the house on March 24, 1818 the proposal to return the stripes at thirteen was accepted, but Reid's star formation was not.
1818 Flag (20 Stars)
The Flag Act of 1818 restored the design to thirteen stripes for the original colonies (per Reid's design), and specified twenty stars for the twenty states that existed at that time. The additional stars added to this flag represented Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, and Mississippi. It lasted only one year.
1861: Lincoln Flag, 34 Stars
This 34-starred banner was raised over Philadelphia's Independence Hall by President Lincoln on February 22, 1861 to send a message to Southern states, which were preparing to secede from the Union. It became the Official United States Flag on July 4th, 1861.
1912: 48-Star Flag
Throughout its history, the design of the United States flag has been modified 26 times since it was first adopted in 1777. This 48-star version went unchanged for 47 years (July 4, 1912 – July 3, 1959). The 49-star version became official on July 4, 1959, with the addition of Alaska.
1959: Old Glory (50 stars)
Many unsolicited 50-star flag design proposals were sent to President Eisenhower in the 1950's. One was by 17-year-old Robert G. Heft, in 1958. Heft had received a B- for the design, which was a school project. His teacher joked that if Congress accepted it, the grade would adjusted. On Aug. 21, 1959 Heft's design was adopted by President Eisenhower. This is our flag today.
photos courtesy of cliff1066′s Flickr photostream.
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