Who invented the first flag?

Who invented the first flag?



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An answer on this site claims that the first flags were heraldic flags used in battles. But when was this, and for which nations?


The Shahdad Standard is currently the oldest known flag in the world. The squared bronze flag from Shahdad, Iran dates back to about 2400 BC.

It bears many of the hallmarks of a modern flag:

  • A pole (around which the flag could turn)
  • An eagle with open wings mounted on the top of the pole
  • An emblem on the flag (depicting a rain goddess and an irrigation method practiced in Shahdad) to represent the group which bears the standard

Note:

The second source describes the emblem a little different:

two figures facing one another on a rich background of animals, plants, and goddesses

Source:

  • Iran's Most Ancient Standard Goes on Display in National Museum - The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies

  • The World in Between - Archaeology Magazine Archive, Archaeological Institute of America


The Egyptian hieroglyph for "god" was a temple flag, so it seems flags were well-established around holy places probably by the dawn of the bronze age (~3000 BC). Earlier than that, I don't know.


I have a different answer for this and just sharing what I know about this, it also does not mean the flag was invented in India, but in India more than 5000 years ago, flags were used. Perhaps it could be the first flag.

In the epic Mahabharatha, for the Kurukshethra war between pandavas and kauravas, flags were used.

The Embelem on the flag of the arjuna chariot was Hanuman. The flag was called "Kapi Dhwaj". There is a specific description about this flag in Mahabharatha, since it has a certain importance.

Also prior to Mahabharata, in the Great Epic Ramayana, there is a reference to a flag ('Dhwaj' in Sanskrit) for both Lord Rama's Ayodhya Kingdom and Ravana's Lanka Kingdom.

If we come to Vedas, in the Atharva Veda it is mentioned that Indra had a Flag of his own called 'Indra Dhwaj'. There is no hard pictorial evidence for these references but the abundant use of the Sanskrit word 'Dhwaj' in almost all the scriptures is nothing but a flag which is attached to either the king's Chariot or at the entrance of his palace.

So this answer tries to put some historical input from ancient India to this question.


Many early civilizations used vexilloids for the purposes of flags. A vexilloid is a stick, staff, or pole with an emblem, usually a 3D or 2D solid object on top, and sometimes a row of solid objects up and down the staff.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vexilloid1

The standards of the Roman army are famous vexilloids.

There are ancient Egyptian carvings and paintings of vexilloids thousands of years old.

Many vexilloids had cloth attached, such as ribbons and streamers, windsocks (as in dragon flags), or rectangular cloths hung from horizontal crossbars (Roman vexilla or Nazi standards).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draco_(military_standard)2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vexillum3

A flag is a piece of cloth, sometimes with a single color but usually having geometric or pictorial designs and patterns in different colors, usually but not always rectangular.

A rectangular flag is usually, but not always, longer in the fly (horizontal dimension) than in the hoist (vertical dimension).

Two of the most common ways to display flags are:

1) Using clips to attach to lanyards (cords or ropes) to run them up and down flagpoles.

2) Permanent attachment to spears, poles, or staffs. This type of flag can be considered a category of vexilloid, I guess.

According to Whitney Smith in Flags Through the Ages and Across the World (1975) cloth flags were invented in ancient China and gradually spread west through Eurasia and Africa, reaching Europe and the Mediterranean in the early middle ages.

But the Shadad Standard from Iran 4,000 to 5,000 years ago is an enigma. Since it has no surviving cloth parts it is clearly a vexilloid. But the squarish bronze plate is clearly in the position that a cloth flag on a spear would have.

So is the Shadad Standard a forerunner of flags, having a bronze plate where flags would have their cloth flags, or is it an imitation of cloth flags that already existed in Iran 4,000 to 5,000 years ago which have left no archaeological record?


Who invented the first flag? - History

Wikimedia Commons The story of Betsy Ross accepting George Washington’s request for a flag is dubious to say the least.

The United States was just a few weeks shy of celebrating its one-year anniversary when the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution establishing an official flag for the nation. While the flag’s actual creation is often linked to Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross, this claim is starkly unfounded.

While June 14 has been celebrated as Flag Day for decades, the history behind its titular object remains contested and disputed. The American flag we use today is not only the 27th version of this national banner, but it is also unlikely to have resulted from Betsy Ross’ work.

Though most are aware of an early American flag with a circle of stars in the canton, the history of gradual design changes remains largely unexplored. Not only was the first design likely inspired by the British East India Company, but the stripes and stars have never meant what you may think.

So who made the American flag? The Betsy Ross story grows more doubtful each year. So a reexamination of the facts is long overdue.


Contents

The flag, first raised on 16 September 1963, originated from the flag of the Federation of Malaya. Prior to the creation of the national flag, each state in Malaya had its own flag, many of which are unchanged in design to this day.

The design of the flag is based on those of two existing flags, the flag of Majapahit and the flag of Johor, where the stripes from the flag of Majapahit were incorporated together with the canton containing the crescent and star from the flag of Johor. [4]

Selection

When the Federation replaced the short lived Malayan Union, the federation government through the Federal Legislative Council called for a design contest for a new flag. Three flags were forwarded to the public. The first flag had 11 white stars with two Malay kris (daggers) in the middle against a blue backdrop. The second flag consisted of "concentric circle of 11 stars around crossed keris on a blue field". The third design had 11 alternate blue and white stripes and a yellow crescent and a five-pointed star on a red background in the top left hand corner". The third design was chosen as the winner - after some adjustments by switching the canton and stripe colours [5] - through a public poll held by The Malay Mail. [6] Since the Malayan state was fighting the communists during the Malayan Emergency, the five-pointed star had an ironic resemblance to the communists' symbols. Therefore, the star was modified to accommodate six more points.

The first proposed flag of Malaya.

The second proposed flag of Malaya.

The third proposed flag of Malaya.

The Malayan flag was approved by George VI on 19 May 1950 and was first raised in front of the Sultan of Selangor's residence on 26 May 1950. [7] On 31 August 1957, it was raised upon independence at Merdeka Square in place of the British Union Flag.

Original symbolism

As the flag was finalised for official use, the significance of the design were given as follows: [8]

  • red, white and blue – represents Malaysia as a country belonging in the Commonwealth.
  • crescent and star – represents Islam as the official religion for the Federation, as yellow symbolises sovereignty of the Malay Rulers and their roles as leader of the faith in the constituent states. The eleven-pointed star itself symbolises the "unity and co-operation" of said member states.

The designer

The Malayan flag was designed by Mohamed Hamzah, a 29-year-old architect working for the Public Works Department (JKR) in Johor Baharu, Johore. He entered the Malayan flag design competition in 1947 with two designs that he completed within two weeks. The first design was a green flag with blue kris in the middle, surrounded by 15 white stars. The second design, which was among the three finalists, was similar to the current flag but with a five-pointed star. It borrows major design elements from the Flag of the East India Company, notably the red and white stripes. The competition attracted 373 entries and voting was made by the general public via post. Malayan senior statesman Dato' Onn Jaafar met with Mohamed Hamzah after he won the competition and suggested that the star be changed to an 11-pointed one to represent all the Malayan states.

Mohamed Hamzah died just short of his 75th birthday on 13 February 1993 in Jalan Stulang Baru, Kampung Melayu Majidee, Johor. [9]

Modifications

Following the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, the design of the Malayan flag was modified to reflect and honour the new states in the federation.

Three additional stripes were added to the existing flag and the star was given 14 points to reflect the federation of the original 11 states in Malaya plus Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore the design remained the same even after Singapore's expulsion from the federation two years later. When Kuala Lumpur was designated a Federal Territory on 1 February 1974, the additional stripe and the point in the star were appropriated to represent this new addition to the federation. Eventually, with the addition of two other federal territories, Labuan in 1984 and Putrajaya in 2001, the fourteenth stripe and point in the star came to be associated with the federal government in general.

In 1997, when Malaysians were invited to name the flag, then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad picked the name Jalur Gemilang to project the country's onward drive towards continuous growth and success.

During the National Day celebrations, everyone is encouraged to fly the Jalur Gemilang at their homes, office buildings, shops and corporate premises.

  • If the flag is fixed at home, it is to be raised pointing towards the road.
  • If the flag is put in a group of flags with state and private company flags, the Malaysian flag must be raised in between two flags and its pole placed higher than the rest.

Flag of the Kingdom of Sarawak from 1870 to 1946.

Flag of North Borneo from 1882 to 1948.

Flag of the Crown Colony of North Borneo from 1948 to 1963.

Flag of the Crown Colony of Sarawak from 1946 to 1963.

Flag of the Crown Colony of Labuan from 1912 to 1946.

Flag of the Straits Settlements from 1874 to 1942.

Flag of Crown Colony of Penang from 1946 to 1949.

Flag of Crown Colony of Malacca from 1946 to 1957.

Flag of the Crown Colony of Singapore from 1946 to 1952.

Flag of the Crown Colony of Singapore from 1952 to 1959.

Flag of the Federation of Malaya from 1950 to 1963.

The flag anthem is written as dedication and pride of the Malaysian national flag. It is performed on Hari Merdeka, the nation's independence day on 31 August every year. The original anthem Benderaku was written by Malaysian songwriter Tony Fonseka. After the flag was given the name Jalur Gemilang, the flag anthem was updated in 1997 to reflect this change. This was then followed by an introduction of a new flag anthem, with arrangements by Malaysian songwriter Pak Ngah and lyrics by Malaysian songwriter Siso Kopratasa.

Government vessels use the Jalur Gemilang as the state ensign. The following is a table of the other ensigns used in Malaysia with the national flag inside.

Flag Type Description Flag ratio
Civil ensign The civil ensign of Malaysia used by civilian vessels has a red background with the Jalur Gemilang in a blue-fimbriated canton. 1:2
Malaysian Government blue ensign The flag used by the Malaysian Government has a dark blue background with the Jalur Gemilang in the canton. 1:2
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency blue ensign The flag used by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency has a dark blue background with the Jalur Gemilang in the canton and the logo of the agency in the fly. 1:2
Army ensign The flag used by the Malaysian Army has a red background with the Jalur Gemilang in the canton and the army emblem in the fly. 1:2
Air Force ensign The flag used by the Royal Malaysian Air Force has a pale blue background with the Jalur Gemilang in the canton and the Bintang Persekutuan (14-point star) in the fly. 1:2
Naval ensign The flag used by the Royal Malaysian Navy has a white background with the Jalur Gemilang in a red-fimbriated canton and an emblem consisting of an anchor and two crossed traditional kris (daggers) in the fly. Naval ships of the Royal Malaysian Navy use this flag as the naval ensign. 1:2

The Federal Star is similar in concept of Australia's Commonwealth Star in that it symbolises the unity of states in the Malaysian federation and its Federal government, featuring 14 points to represent each of the federation's 14 states. It is also used on the Royal Malaysian Air Force roundel, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) flag and the former United Malayan Banking Corporation (UMBC) logo.

The Patani Malayu National Revolutionary Front, a Southern Thai Malay separatist group involved in the South Thailand insurgency, originally adopted an independence flag that incorporated a crescent and 15-point variation of the Federal Star on its flag to represent the southernmost Thai provinces' closer tie to Malay and Muslim-majority Malaysia over that of Thailand.


Who invented American Flag?

No recorded documentation proves that who invented the American Flag and when. But the common stories that support the views regarding invention tell us that George Washington drew a rough sketch and it was Betsy Ross who designed and sewed the first American Flag. The family of Rebecca Young claims Rebecca to be the one to design the same. Another story for the same is of the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board’s Middle Department, Francis Hopkinson who claims to design and make this flag during his service tenure and have been said to pass the bill for the same to the Congress in 1777. The flag resolution of 1777 was passed by the Second Continental Congress of the Marine Committee. The resolution said that the flag would have thirteen alternating stripes and the corner having thirteen stars against blue background each representing thirteen colonies of America.

When the revolutionary war began George Washington and his army fought under The Grand Union Flag that had 13 alternating lines and blue, red and white designs in the corner with different shapes. The Grand Union Flag was quite similar to the present flag.

As of now the American flag has thirteen stripes with red and white color in alternate stripes. In the corner of the flag there is a blue square which has fifty stars placed at equidistance.


The History of the American Flag: A Timeline

Every heart beats true for the red, white, and blue &ndash but does every heart know the interesting United States flag history? While the modern American flag has become a symbol around the world for freedom, justice, and prosperity, it has actually changed sixty three times over the past two hundred and thirty five years. Some early designs of the flag would be unrecognizable to most modern Americans, and some even featured the British Union Jack.

Brush up on the fascinating story of our beloved Star-Spangled Banner and how she became the shining beacon of hope that she is today with in the following guide to the different American flags through history!

1775 &ndash As revolutionary fever starts to swelter, several iterations of a flag representing the independence and discontent of the colonists begin to surface. The Continental Navy starts to fly a flag with a red striped background featuring a snake, along with the inscription &ldquoDon&rsquot Tread on Me.&rdquo This sentiment and symbol will later be associated with the United States Marine Corps.

In New England, the &ldquoLiberty Tree&rdquo symbol becomes increasingly popular and appears on several flags. The green pine tree shape was used on board New England ships with the phrase &ldquoAn Appeal to Heaven,&rdquo while the flag for New England featured the Liberty tree in the upper left corner set bordered by red, white and blue stripes.


1776 &ndash On the first of January, The Grand Union Flag is flown on Prospect Hill and adopted as a symbol of the rebelling colonists. The flag, originally designed in 1775, features the British Union Jack in the upper left corner surrounded by thirteen white and red stripes, symbolizing the thirteen colonies.


Five months later, Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, sews what is remembered as the first &ldquoAmerican Flag,&rdquo featuring thirteen white stars laid in a circle on a blue background surrounded by thirteen red and white stripes. Modern historians have called the validity of the Ross story into question however, the story has become American folklore and is unlikely to be overruled in the public mind.


1777 &ndash After myriad variations of Ross&rsquos design are sewn and utilized around the colonies during early Revolutionary battles, the Continental Congress officially adopts Ross&rsquos original design as the first official flag of the fledgling country on June 14th.

1778-1794 &ndash Alternative versions of the American flag continue to be produced and used by various prominent military outfits and sailing vessels in spite of the official adoption of the Ross design. All versions utilize the red, white, and blue theme. Different designs were likely used due to slow and inconsistent communication as well as the gradual transition of the thirteen colonies into states. The last of the thirteen colonies to officially join The United States was Rhode Island in 1790.

1795 &ndash The official design is modified and updated to include two more states into the Union: Kentucky and Vermont. The stars pattern has now shifted away from the circle to five staggered rows.


1814 &ndash Inspired by the majesty of the flag and its visual impact during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key pens a tune he titles &ldquoThe Star-Spangled Banner.&rdquo The song&rsquos patriotic message earns it national recognition. It is officially adopted in 1931 as the national anthem.

1818 &ndash The official flag is modified and updated to showcase five additional stars on the blue field in honor of Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Mississippi and Indiana receiving state status. The stars are now arranged in four rows of five across.

1819 &ndash The flag is updated at the end of the year when Illinois is added into the Union. The 21 stars are now arranged with one row of four with one row of five on top and two rows of five below.

1820 &ndash Two more stars are added with the inclusion of Alabama and Maine. The 23 stars are now arranged with one row of five with one row of six on top and two rows of six below.

1822-1867 &ndash Fourteen more stars are added to the flag with the inclusion of Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, California, Minnesota, Oregon, Kansas, West Virginia, Nevada and Nebraska. There are now thirty seven stars on the American Flag.


1861-1865 &ndash The rival of the Stars and Stripes, the official flag of the Confederate States of America, is created. This flag goes through three major iterations before the South falls to General Grant in 1865, including the &ldquoStars and Bars,&rdquo which played off of Ross&rsquos original design, &ldquoThe Stainless Banner,&rdquo which featured the Confederate battle symbol (the blue starred &ldquoX&rdquo pattern on the red background) in the upper left corner of a white field, and &ldquoThe Blood Stained Banner,&rdquo which added a red bar onto the right side of the second iteration. There was also a popular though unofficial &ldquoBonnie Blue Flag&rdquo that featured a deep blue field with one large white star on it. In popular memory, the Confederate Battle Flag is remembered as the flag of the confederacy, even though it was never officially considered that.


1886 &ndash The centennial flag is created, replacing the traditional star field with stars shaped into the number &ldquo1776&rdquo above the number &ldquo1876.&rdquo


1877-1896 &ndash Seven more stars are added for Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.

1897 &ndash State Flag Desecration Statutes begin to be adopted in states around the country to outlaw altering or abusing the flag for commercial and political purposes. Among the specifics of the statutes were marking the flag, trampling the flag or talking negatively about the flag. Also outlawed was the creation of flags that could be mistaken as the official American Flag.

1912 &ndash The specific measurements, orientation, and details of the flag are officially established in a presidential executive order. Three more stars are added for Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma (that was included as a state in 1908). There are now 48 stars on the flag.

1949 &ndash Flag Day, to be observed on June 14th, is established.

1959-1960 &ndash Alaska and Hawaii are added to the Union and the final two stars are added to the flag. The modern American Flag is officially complete, with five rows of alternating five and six stars staggered for visual appeal.


2013 &ndash The United States Flag continues to be a symbol of hope and freedom to billions of people around the world.


For more information on the American Flag, check out the following resources:
History of the American Flag - http://www.usa-flag-site.org/history.shtml
Flag of the United States - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_the_United_States#History
Flag Timeline - http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagfact.html

Visit All Star Flags to look through our fine collection of American Flags for sale.


History of the American Flag & American Flag Facts

“Old Glory, Stars and Stripes, the Star Spangled Banner” - From its inception, the American flag has been an important part of our nation’s history. Surviving over 200 years, the flag has both physically and symbolically grown and developed in times of both achievement and crisis.

The American flag is a symbol known worldwide. It has been the inspiration for holidays, songs, poems, books, artwork and so much more. The flag has been used to display our nationalism, as well as our rebellion, and everything else in between. The flag is so important that its history tells the story of America itself.
It represents the freedom, dignity, and true meaning of being an American. It has been with us through our war times, our sad times, but also in times of our greatest joys and triumphs. The flag went through many variations before becoming the flag we all know and love.
In fact, it took from January 1, 1776 to August 21, 1960.

It has also been shrouded in legend and mystery for many years. Did Betsy Ross truly design the first flag? Do the colors really stand for something significant? We will explore this and other myths.

Hello, I’m Terry Ruggles, join me as we recount the History of the American Flag.

When we think of the American Revolution, we think of it in terms of its final form, as independence from Britain, but the American Revolution was a “work in progress”. It did not start out as a movement for independence, but a movement to gain seats in Parliament. It evolved from a protest, to a full blown revolution into a move for independence…and Our flag reflected the various stages of this.

So let’s take a look at the components that make up our current US Flag. We have what’s known as the canton or blue field, the stars, and of course, the stripes.
So where did these designs come from?

The earliest use of stripes in flags in what was to become America is from the “Sons of Liberty” Flag. The Son’s of Liberty were the original “Tea Party” members These are the guys that threw the chests of tea overboard into the Boston Harbour.

Starting after the stamp act in 1765. The Sons of Liberty began their protesting. They came up with a flag that looked similar to this only with less stripes. The pattern however was the same and it could be displayed either horizontally or vertically. This may have been the pattern that contributed for the stripes on our flag.

In 1775, at the Beginning of the Revolution, Independence had not yet been declared. The Continental Congress was meeting in Philadelphia when a somewhat obscure militia Colonel from Virginia came forward in his uniform and volunteered to take command of the troops outside of Boston overlooking Boston Heights. That Colonel was George Washington.

When he left Philadelphia, he took with him two flags. The Grand Union or The Continental as it was called was the first flag under which continental soldiers fought. It uses the alternating red and white stripe pattern similar to the Sons of Liberty Flag only there are 13 stripes signifying the 13 colonies. However, notice that instead of stars on a blue field, we have the “Kings Colors” also known as the “Union Jack”. This flag had a very specific meaning. It meant that we were fighting as 13 united colonies but under British Rule. Remember, at this time we had not yet declared our Independence.

The other flag that Washington took with him is known as the Washington’s Headquarters Flag. Look familiar? As you can see, the entire field is BLUE. There are 13 stars arranged in a pattern known as the 3-2-3-2-3 pattern. 5 rows of alternating stars of 3 stars, 2 stars, 3 stars, 2 stars, 3 stars. However, you will also notice that they are 6 pointed stars. A slight difference from the 5 pointed star on the current flag. This would be the first use of the star pattern on an American flag and today you can see a copy of this flag hanging in front of Washington’s Headquarters at Valley Forge.

A year later, on July 4, 1776, congress declared its independence from Great Britain. From that moment on, we were fighting for our independence. Yet the continental congress still did not design a new American flag. That flag came about on June 14, 1777 when congress passed the first of three major flag acts . The first act stated that “the flag of the US shall consist of 13 alternating stripes of red on white with 13 white stars on a blue field forming a new constellation. What it left out was the following:

  • Were those stripes to be vertical or horizontal?
  • Where was the blue field to be placed?
  • What was the star pattern to be used?
  • And how many points were to be on the star?

So who designed the flag? In 1776 you couldn’t go into a store and buy a flag off the rack. Back then, flags were made in one of two ways. Since most Flags had a naval use, you could go to a ships chandlery - a store that outfitted ships - and the chandler would contract with a sail maker or in many cases an upholsterer to make the flag. An upholster in colonial times had more functions that what we typically think of today. Besides working on furniture, they also made flags and other military equipment. This is where the legend of Betsy Ross comes in to play.

We know that Betsy Ross was an upholsterer who made flags for the Pennsylvania Navy. What we don’t know is did she really design the first flag? There is a great deal of controversy about this.

In 1870, Betty Ross’ Grandson was addressing an Historic society in Philadelphia and said that his grandmother told him that she met with George Washington and others and she designed the flag. But did she design it or did Francis Hopkinson design it?

Francis Hopkinson was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence from the state of New Jersey. The only evidence of who made the flag is a bill that was submitted to congress by Francis Hopkinson that said for designing the flag, you owe me two casks of ale. What we don’t have is a picture of that flag, a written description of the flag, or even a sketch of the flag. So, the mystery remains.

Regardless of these facts, the legend lives on and the first flag of the Revolutionary Period is referred to as “The Betsy Ross” flag…the pattern of stars on the blue field is known by three names, The Betsy Ross Pattern, The Philadelphia Pattern, or The Single Wreath Pattern. The blue field on the flag also goes by three names - the field, the union, or the canton. Because congress did not set the specifics of where the field would be or how the star pattern should look like, or how many points the star would have, during this period, and up until 1912, the stars could be arranged in any manner that a flag maker would choose.

When congress put together the notion of the flag, they blended the already established design of alternating stripes of red on white signifying the united colonies and a blue field with 13 stars (just like the Washington’s Headquarters flag). Many people believe this may have been the flag that Francis Hopkins designed, but once again this is only speculation.

This pattern is known as the Cowpens pattern. Another well-known flag during this time was the Easton Flag. Interesting design right? But remember, Congress did not specify where all of the elements should be placed. After the Revolutionary War ended, our country wrights a new constitution. We elect Geo Washington president and in 1792 we bring in two new states – Vermont and Kentucky. This begs the question, what do we do with the flag?

Because the original flag act called for 13 stripes and 13 stars to represent the 13 colonies, what do we do to signify the adding of two new states to the Union? At this time, Congress passes the 2nd flag act and it states that from now on we would add one stripe and one star for each new state. This new 15 star and 15 stripe flag is known as The Star Spangled Banner. It is this flag that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem. After the War of 1812 we were adding more states again and as we incorporated more stars and stripes into the design, our flag was starting to look a little funny.
So in 1818, Congress passed the 3rd of the three major flag acts. It stated that the design was to go back to the original configuration of 13 alternating stripes of red on white, representing the 13 original colonies, but that we would add one star for each new state. However, once again, it did not specify what pattern the stars should be arranged in or the amount of points that were to be on the star. So we had many variations of flag design during this time.

Finally, in 1912 President Taft established the pattern of stars that we know today. The 48 star, 49 star and 50 star flag all conform to this pattern.

Our flag is an inspiring symbol that unites us all as American citizens. The unique history of the American flag follows the history of our country and reminds us of the triumphant beginning of the United States. The 13 stripes: a symbol of the first 13 colonies. The stars: a symbol of our country's 50 United States. As our country grew and developed, so did our flag. It has followed the fate of the country itself and, in the future, our flag may even change again.

Today, our flag remains a vibrant symbol of the American principles of democracy, justice, and freedom, and of course the everlasting memory of those who have sacrificed their lives defending these intrinsic principles of the United States of America.

Over two hundred years ago, the Second Continental Congress officially made the Stars and Stripes the symbol of America, going so far as to declare that the 13 stars gracing the original flag represented "a new constellation" with the ideal that America embodied a bright new hope and light for mankind. Today, our flag continues to carry the inspirational and fundamental convictions of our great nation, and will continue to do so for many years to come.


Second Confederate National Flag

In a way, Beauregard won his argument for a new national flag, albeit belatedly. In the spring of 1863, the Confederate Congress, after much debate, approved a new design. This rectangular flag would be totally white except for a replica of the square battle flag in the upper left corner, descending about three-quarters of the way to the bottom. Called the “Stainless Banner,” it also caused problems. When not fully unfurled, the large area of white gave it the appearance of a flag of truce. This version of the flag draped the casket of Confederate lieutenant general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, so it is also sometimes called the “Jackson Flag.”


Who Invented the American Flag?

No one knows for certain where the stars and stripes design came from. Popular accounts of the history of the American flag state that Betsy Ross of Philadelphia designed it. In fact, Ross sewed one of the oldest versions of the flag. There’s no evidence she designed it.

Early History

The US flag has been altered 26 times since its inception. The first official flag recognized by historians is the Grand Union flag which came out on January 1, 1776. It consisted of 13 stripes (alternately white and red). The British Union Jack was situated on the upper left. It was in May of that year that Ross sewed the flag.

A year later on June 14, 1777 the US Congress decreed that the flag have 13 stripes with 13 stars. Based on the history of the American flag, it was this design that Capt. Rob Gray used when he sailed in 1787. In 1795 two stars and stripes were added as Kentucky and Vermont became part of the Union.

In 1818, the number of stars increased to 20 as more territories became part of the US. However it was decided that the stripes would be kept at 13 for the 13 original states. A year later Illinois joined the US. The 1800s would see more and more territories join the country. By the time California joined, the number of stars had risen to 31.

A study of the history of the American flag shows that when the Civil War broke out, the number of stars remained the same. Under orders from President Lincoln, the stars indicating all the states were still part of the flag.

By 1890, the stars increased to 43 with Washington, North Dakota and South Dakota joining in. The records show that laws concerning flag desecration came into being in the late 1890s.

In 1912 New Mexico and Arizona became part of the United States and increased the number of stars to 48. In 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt approved a measure called the Federal Flag Code. It contained the guidelines on how to properly display and show courtesy to the American flag.

A poignant point in the history of the American flag took place in 1945 when the flag that was at Pearl Harbor was brought to the US capitol after Japan surrendered. A year later the Supreme Court came out with a decision stating that kids could not be forced to salute the flag.

In 1959 one more star was added as Alaska became part of the US. The next year in 1960, Hawaii became the 50th star on the flag.

Another milestone took place in 1969 when an American astronaut Neil Armstrong left the flag on the Moon. Throughout the 1960s and even today, there have been cases of people brought to court for desecrating the flag, but there is no actual punishment for people who do it.

The history of the American flag has gone through various changes, and not without controversy. But the meaning of the flag, justice, freedom and truth always remain.


How Did the Rainbow Flag Become a Symbol of LGBTQ Pride?

June has long been recognized as LGBTQ Pride Month, in honor of the Stonewall riots, which took place in New York City in June 1969. During Pride Month, it is not uncommon to see the rainbow flag being proudly displayed as a symbol for the LGBTQ rights movement. But how did that flag become a symbol of LGBTQ pride?

It goes back to 1978, when the artist Gilbert Baker, an openly gay man and a drag queen, designed the first rainbow flag. Baker later revealed that he was urged by Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S., to create a symbol of pride for the gay community. Baker decided to make that symbol a flag because he saw flags as the most powerful symbol of pride. As he later said in an interview, “Our job as gay people was to come out, to be visible, to live in the truth, as I say, to get out of the lie. A flag really fit that mission, because that’s a way of proclaiming your visibility or saying, ‘This is who I am!’” Baker saw the rainbow as a natural flag from the sky, so he adopted eight colors for the stripes, each color with its own meaning (hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit).

The first versions of the rainbow flag were flown on June 25, 1978, for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day parade. Baker and a team of volunteers had made them by hand, and now he wanted to mass-produce the flag for consumption by all. However, because of production issues, the pink and turquoise stripes were removed and indigo was replaced by basic blue, which resulted in the contemporary six-striped flag (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet). Today this is the most common variant of the rainbow flag, with the red stripe on top, as in a natural rainbow. The various colors came to reflect both the immense diversity and the unity of the LGBTQ community.

It was not until 1994 that the rainbow flag was truly established as the symbol for LGBTQ pride. That year Baker made a mile-long version for the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Now the rainbow flag is an international symbol for LGBTQ pride and can be seen flying proudly, during both the promising times and the difficult ones, all around the world.


First National Pattern Confederate Flag

The Confederate assembly in Montgomery, Alabama adopted the first national flag of the Confederate States of America in March of 1861. This flag was raised over the Capital in Montgomery, Alabama on March 4, 1861. The canton was blue with seven stars in a circle. There were three bars on the flag, two red and one white, and thus the popular name "Stars and Bars."


First Flag of the Confederate States of America, March 4, 1861

The seven stars represent the seven original states: South Carolina Mississippi Florida Alabama Georgia Louisiana and Texas. The seven star flag was used officially for two years, but never established as the Confederate Flag by law.

Between April 17 and June 24, 1861, four more states, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina seceded from the Union. (North Carolina was the eleventh state to secede).

The same day that North Carolina seceded, May 20, 1861, the Confederate Congress was in session in Montgomery, Alabama. At this session, the number of stars on the flag was increased to thirteen, representing the eleven states that had seceded and also Kentucky and Missouri, who had sent representatives to the first Confederate Congress.

After the first battle of Bull Run, the troops complained that at a distance they could not distinguish between the "Stars and Bars" and the "Stars and Stripes" of the Federal flag. General Beauregard designed the Battle Flag of the Confederacy, consisting of two blue lines containing the thirteen stars diagonally across a red field.


The Battle Flag of the Confederacy, also known as the "Southern Cross"

The people of the Confederate Union also wanted a flag for all occasions that would not be confused with the "Stars and Stripes." In May 1863, the Confederate Congress adopted the blue cross with thirteen stars, but placed it in the "place of honor" and substituted the three bars with a field of solid white.


Second Flag of the Confederate States of America, May 1, 1863 through March 4, 1865

The Confederate soldiers felt that this flag resembled a flag of truce. It was again altered and adopted in 1865, shortly before the end of the Civil War. A red bar was added extending over the width of the banner and covering the outer half of the field.


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