We hope you enjoy this week’s story!
The History of Our Flag
Following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Old British flag which had once been so dear to the colonists and which they now so hated, was pulled down and the new American flag hoisted in its place. For the colonists had long ago learned that no peace with England was possible. They had once offered a petition to the king in which they asked that peace might be restored on certain conditions. This petition, the king would not even hear read; and so the colonists had long known that their only hope lay in face-to-face battle with the English troops.
At the beginning of the war, there had been in use a variety of flags. One of the very first was the “Pine Tree” flag [the pine tree has been a symbol of American independence in New England]. This was used first in the Massachusetts colony. It had a white ground, a tree in the middle, and the motto, “Appeal to Heaven.” Next, a flag was made having upon it thirteen stripes of red and white to represent the thirteen colonies. It had, however, the British “Union-Jack,” as it was called, in the corner. But when the Declaration of Independence came, then, said the colonists, we must have a truly American flag; for now we are the American nation.
Congress voted, June, 17, 1777, “that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, and the Union be thirteen white stars in the blue field.”
The first truly American flag was hoisted by Paul Jones over an American ship-of-war. This flag was made by a Philadelphia woman, and I am sure they must have been proud to have done their part in the raising of the first American flag.
It was intended that, as time went on and the country grew, a new stripe should be added added for each new State; but later, when the growth of the country caused the flag to become too wide, it was decided to return to the thirteen original stripes, and let a new star be added for each new State. And thus it is that our flag today shows thirteen stripes of red and white, while in its blue field, where the “Union Jack” used to stand, is a star for each of our fifty states.
From “American History Stories…You Never Read in School…but should have Volume I”, by Mara L. Pratt, M.D. Used with permission. This wonderful book is available for sale at firstname.lastname@example.org
For a timeline and pictures of our different flags, visit this interesting webpage (please note that the Supreme Court cases referenced at the bottom of the page may hold some questionable content, so read at your own discretion): http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagfact.html