American Flags

Welcome to FlagLore.com, a site about the history and traditions of our American flags. This site started out as a reprint of a U.S. government site that had been retired. We thought that the content should be preserved and restored it here. Over the years, we have added a lot of content from our reader’s suggestions.

Stars and Stripes, The US Flag

Stars and Stripes, The US Flag

Most of us are familiar with the current U.S. 50 star flag and may have seen or remembered some of it’s recent predecessors, but there are many more historical flags that are part of our lore. We’ll look at a lot of them here as we discuss their origin and some of the customs associated with them.

Who made the first American flag? Most people would answer Betsy Ross, but history isn’t clear. The story is told that she was the seamstress that embroidered George Washington’s shirt ruffles, and that he asked her to design the flag in mid 1776. The weakness in the story is that this tale wasn’t recorded until almost 100 years later by her grandson, and that there were several other well known flag designs that pre dated 1776.

We know for certain that congress passed the first Flag Act on June 14, 1777 stating: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”” and in 1794 another act designated 15 stars and 15 stripes.

It wasn’t until April 1818 under President Monroe that the number of stripes was fixed at 13 and one star for each state. Later acts adjusted the arrangement and the position of the stars.

Prior to Betsy Ross’ Stars and Stripes there were several flag variants, many with snake and serpent themes and several with pine trees. We’ll look at some of these in later pages.

We’ve also seen the appearance of several semi-official flags that, while not official symbols, are recognized as patriotic and part of our culture. Among these are the Presidential flag, the Sons in Service Flag from WWII, and the POW flag that often flies under the American Flag. These are all part of Our American Flags and we’ll cover these later too.




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