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History of the US Flag

The beautiful flag of the United States of America is an object of great national pride for the inhabitants of the nation, particularly those native to it. Since its origin, this great symbol of America's sovereignty has undergone some 27 changes. On the eve of the patriotic occasion of Flag Day, this brilliant article takes you on a journey through the various stages in the evolution of the nation flag of the U.S.A. If you enjoy reading this informative article, click here and forward it to your friends and dear ones who you feel would enjoy it too. Happy Flag Day!

Every one of us who are familiar with the American history know what Flag Day is all about. It is a commemoration of that historic incident in 1777, when the national flag of the United States of America was adopted by the Continental Congress and every state of the nation got its true identity in it.

But the flag was not born all of a sudden and nor was it to be a permanent one. It was to pass through a series of modifications just like it came into being through a course of changes. Before the birth of the 1777 version, the then 13 states of the U.S.A. were under British domination and naturally, the flag that flew was the British Union Flag of 1606 which consisted of seven red and six white alternated stripes representing the 13 colonies.

This was replaced by the "Union Jack", the great national flag of the United Kingdom.

American FlagWhen the 13 states gained their independence in 1776, there was the necessity of a new flag that could show the sovereign status of these erstwhile British territories. Thus on June 14, 1777, a new flag was born with the formal approval of the Continental Congress. This flag, which had a blue canton was to contain 13 stars, and was hence known as the 'Stars and Stripes'.

However the layout of the stars was left undefined in this work. This led to the birth of several flags that were modelled on the "Stars and Stripes". The one designed by the legendary Betsy Ross featured the stars arranged in five rows of either two or three stars while John Hulbert, a magistrate, created a piece where the stripes were the same but the canton featured a diamond-shaped field of 13 stars. The Navy adopted its own flag. A modified version of the "Stars and Stripes", known as the "76 Flag", was flown at the Battle of Bennington on Aug. 16, 1777.

There were some other early versions of the "Stars and Stripes". A very popular one among them was, the first Navy Jack, used even before the country got its freedom. First used by the Continental Navy in 1775, it had the 13 red-white stripes with a rattlesnake overall, and the motto "Don't Tread on Me."

The Stars and Stripes remained as it was until May 1, 1795, when it became necessary to reflect the admission of two new states, Vermont (1791) and Kentucky (1792), to the union. Hence, two more stars and two more stripes were added to the flag. It was this flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the "Star Spangled Banner".

When five more states were admitted later, the Congress enacted a legislation in 1818 that stated that then on a change in the number of states was to be reflected in the number of stars and not the number of stripes which should remain unaltered at 13. It became a rule then that the number of states should always match the number of states and any new star should be added on the July 4 following a state's admission. The rule has been in practice ever since.

A new national flag, the Stainless Banner was adopted on May 1, 1863. But this 1863 version did not last long.

A modified design of the Stainless Banner, the 1865 version, was to last even shorter. It was adopted, rather futilely, about a month before the end of the war in April 1865.

Since then, every time a new state was annexed, the size of the canton as well as the stripes was altered to make room for the increased number of stars. On Oct. 29, 1912, an executive order set a standard for the proportions and relative sizes, though not the exact shades of color, of the elements of the flag. It was in 1934 that the latter factor was standardized.

The present form of the national flag featuring 50 stars on a canton against the background of 13 stripes - 7 red and 6 white - has been there since July 4, 1960, after the state of Hawaii was included in the union. It has been one long journey for the American national flag, isn't it?

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