The American flag has changed and developed over the years since it’s beginning in 1776. It was originally referred to as the “Grand Union Flag”, or sometimes “The Continental Colours.” It wasn’t until the following year, on June 14, 1977 that the Continental Congress approved our first national flag, which was known as “Stars and Stripes”. Before a standardized version of the flag was officially sanctioned by the Continental Congress, designs of the flag varied, as they were all homemade and were created to show the spirit of American in a time when the country was still fighting for it’s freedom.
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We all grew up hearing the legend of Betsy Ross and how she made the first American Flag for George Washington, however this has never actually been proven by historians.
Francis Hopkinson was the first federal judge of the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, and was appointed by George Washington. He is credited for designing the first official American flag, the first United States coin, and continental paper money. Hopkinson was also one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Francis Hopkinson was a lawyer, musician, author, and member of the second continental congress. He was also an artist and designed several seals including the seal for the American Philosophical Society.
The reason that Hopkinson was not credited with being the creator of the first official American flag is because when he petitioned for payment from the government, they denied payment on the basis that there were other contributors to the design. However, it is widely believed by historians that Hopkinson was directly involved in designing our first official flag.
Most of us grew up hearing the story of Betsy Ross and how she created the first American flag for George Washington. Betsy Ross was a seamstress who lived in Philadelphia, and according to legend, George Washington and two of his representatives paid her a visit one day with a rough rendering of a design for an American flag and asked her to make it.
Betsy Ross then slightly changed the design from a six-pointed star to a five-pointed star, simply because it could be cut out of fabric easier, allowing for more flags to be made quickly. These events have never actually been proven by historians, but the story became popular due to a speech that was given at the Philadelphia Historical Society in 1870.
William Canby — Betsy Ross’s grandson — gave this speech, and he painted a picture of revolutionaries starting a new country built on ideologies such as freedom and liberty. Canby, no doubt, heard this story passed down through his family, and wanted to share it with the nation, fueling their feelings of pride and patriotism.
The design of the American flag has been updated through the years through different acts and orders passed by our government, but the original symbolism meant to be shown through the flag has remained the same.
The stars were originally meant to be a sign of the heavens. Stars are found high in the sky, and with or without modern science, have always inspired a feeling of hope. The stars on our flag are there to represent the hopes, dreams, and goals of our nation.
The stripes are intended to represent rays of light from the sun, coming down from heaven. These stripes are there to show us that the heavens are on our side, watching over and protecting us.
The Color Red
The color red on the American flag is meant to show hardness and valor. It’s there to inspire us to believe that we will always overcome our enemies and stick to our convictions.
The Color White
White symbolizes innocence and purity. This is because America was declaring its freedom from a Kingdom that stifled the rights of its citizens and America was going to be a country that valued freedom and liberty for all.
The Color Blue
The blue in our flag stands for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. These were the foundation of beliefs that America was being built upon.
The amount of stars and stripes have changed over the years because they also represent the size and history of our nation. The 13 stripes are there to remind us of the 13 original colonies. The 50 stars represent the current number of states in America, which is why it has changed several times.
The First Flag Act
The First Flag Act occured on June 14, 1777, which is why we celebrate “Flag Day” on June 14th. It was on this day that the Continental Congress approved the design of the first official American flag. The official flag act read as:
“Resolved: That the flag of the United States be made of 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
Flag day became an observed holiday in 1916, when a proclamation was issued by Woodrow Wilson. However, it wasn’t until 1949, that congress finally passed a statute to officially recognize flag day.
Additional Flag Acts And Executive Orders
The Flag Act of 1794
This act was signed by George Washington and it changed the design of the flag after Vermont and Kentucky officially became states. This flag included 15 stars and 15 stripes.
The Flag Act of 1818
This act made it law that our flag would have 13 stripes, and the number of stars would correlate to the number of states.
Executive Order Of June 24, 1912
This executive order was signed by President Taft, and it standardized the proportions of the flag, and insisted that the stars be in six horizontal rows, eight being in each row.
Executive Order of August 21, 1959
This executive order was administered by President Eisenhower. This was based on a need for a 50 star flag to include Alaska. It spoke of the placement of the stars and 13 stripes, as well as gave specification on flag size for different agencies.
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The ND Flag Pole guys offers a selection of different sized American flags, as well as both state and military flags. Shop our site today to show your American pride!