The History of American Flags

Mar 10th, 2015

The American flag has been a symbol of the United States strength and unity, and the source of inspiration and pride of its citizens, for over 200 years. Its history is as fascinating as the country that it represents.


How the first American flag was created is unknown. Historically, it has been reported that New Jersey Congressman Francis Hopkinson designed the flag and that in May, 1776, Betsy Ross, a seamstress from Philadephia, was the first person to sew the American flag. Most historians do not believe that to be true.


On June 14, 1777, Congress authorized the creation of the American flag as the official flag of the United States. It was resolved that there would be 13 stars and alternate red and white stripes representing each of the 13 states. Those states were Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. The stars, representing a new constellation, were to be white on a blue field. The colors chose for the flag generally represent red for valor, white for hope and purity, and blue for loyalty and vigilance. Washington interpreted the symbolism of the flag as “We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty.” June 14 was declared Flag Day on August 3, 1949, by President Harry S. Truman.

As additional states were added, the number of stars and stripes included on the American flag increased to the point that it was apparent there would be too many stripes on the flag. As a result, Congress stipulated in 1818 that the number of stripes would be restricted to 13, the number of the original states, and a white star would be added for each new state that joined the union.


On June 24, 1912, President Taft issued an Executive Order that dictated proportion of the flag and that the eight stars should be placed in six horizontal rows and the point on each star should be positioned upward. Until Taft issued this executive order, flags were made with various arrangements of the stars in varying proportions by different flag makers.

On January 3, 1959, President Eisenhower issued an Executive Order that dictated that seven stars should be placed in seven rows and that the stars, both horizontally and vertically, should be staggered. Another executive order was issued by President Eisenhower on August 21, 1959 that dictated that the stars should be staggered horizontally in nine rows and staggered vertically in eleven rows.


The design that was ordered by President Eisenhower is still in use today. There are many other interesting facts about the history and use of the American flag that we will reveal in future blogs. If you have any questions about the flags, flagpoles and accessories, please contact us at our toll free number, 888-735-5591, or click on the contact button at the top of our webpage.


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