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Our American Flag: Truth and Fiction

Surprising facts about the flag.


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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
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One of our most enduring American symbols of Freedom and Liberty, The Flag is surrounded by varying degrees of myth and controversy about its origins. As June 14 is National Flag Day and the 4th of July is just around the corner, I thought it appropriate to investigate a little further into the history of our flag.

Truth: The flag was adopted by resolution of the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on June 14, 1777. The resolution read "Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

Truth: The original flag law has never been found, so information is not certain as to the details of the making and design of the flag. No one knows for sure who designed the flag, but the designer of the Naval flag, Francis Hopkinson, claimed to have designed it and asked Congress to reimburse him for his services, but was denied.

Truth: While legend holds that Betsy Ross designed the flag at the request of George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross, historians have never been able to find any record of such a meeting or committee. This story came to light in 1870 after it was told by the grandson of Mrs. Ross.

Truth: the original plan was to add stripes and stars to the flag when a new state was admitted, and after Vermont and Kentucky were added to the Union, the flag did in fact bear 15 stripes and 15 white stars, as passed by Congressional act in 1795. In 1818, it was realized that this plan was not feasible, as still more new states were added and the flag design, and the flag design as we know it today began.

Truth: The stripes on the flag represent the 13 original colonies. White signifies purity and innocence; red stands for hardiness and valor; and blue, stands for vigilance.

Truth: While the American flag comes in many sizes, President Howard Taft declared that the flag meet certain ratios in regard to size, so that no matter how small or big the flag was made, the overall visual presentation remains the same.

Truth: Many different types and versions of colonial flags preceded the adoption of the American Flag. The famous flag with the rattlesnake and the words Don't Tread on Me is one example of an early colonial flag. These flags were often symbolic of current sentiments and feelings.

For more interesting facts about the U. S. flag visit:

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2008.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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