Stars and Stripes! The Story of the American Flag
Once upon a time there was a flag of red, white and blue…
All of our readers know that Reading Rainbow is all about stories, but did you know that the American flag has a wonderful story of its own?
The modern flag that we all know had its beginnings more than 200 years agowith The Grand Union Flag of 1775. This flag is considered the first National Flag of the young United States. The thirteen red and white stripes represented the original thirteen colonies, while the canton (the area in the upper left corner) consisted of the British Union Flag. This flag was also known as “The Continental Colors.”
Only two years later the 2nd Continental Congress decided that the young United States needed a flag that was completely its own, and they passed The Flag Act of 1777, which stated “…the flag of the Thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, that the union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.” This authorized the first official flag of the U.S.! The act didn’t specify how the stars were to be arranged, but most people recognize the Betsy Ross Flag with the stars arranged in a circle to represent the equality of all the states.
In 1794 President George Washington signed The Flag Act of 1794, which changed the design of the flag to accommodate the two new states of Vermont and Kentucky. This flag had fifteen stars and fifteen stripes and was called “The Star-Spangled Banner”. (Did you know that this was the ONLY official U.S. flag to not have thirteen stripes?)see more : Evaair
The most current edition of the U.S. flag is based on The Flag Act of 1818, which established the rule that the American Flag would have thirteen red and white stripes to represent the original thirteen colonies, and that the number of white stars on the blue field in the canton would always represent the number of states in the union. This act also stated that any subsequent changes to the flag would be made on July 4th of that year.
Some other versions of the American Flag that you may recognize are:
The Bennington Flag – This is a popular version of the flag because the thirteen stars and the large “76” in the canton identifies it as a flag of the American Revolution, and from the year when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
The “Don’t Tread On Me” Flag – This was the first Navy Jack (a flag flown by warships and some other maritime vessels at the head of the ship when anchored or moored)used from 1776 to 1777 and reinstated as the Jack of the U.S. Navy in 2002.
The Pine Tree Flag – Also known as the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, this Massachusetts or New England flag was never an official American flag, but was often flown by American ships sailing in New England waters around the year 1775, and thus became a symbol of the New World and its settlers.
Now you know the story of the United States Flag–and what a rich history it has!