Education

The American Flag: A Chronological History

The American flag has changed frequently and dramatically since the Continental Congress resolved on June 14, 1777 “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.” The vague wording left much room for graphic interpretation, encouraged further by two Congressional acts. In 1795, Congress decreed that a single star and single stripe be added whenever a new state joined the Union. In 1818, Congress changed its mind, reverting back to thirteen horizontal stripes, alternating red and white, to symbolize the original colonies, with each state represented by a single star. The new star would be added on the Fourth of July following a state’s admission to the Union. In 1912, Congress finally legislated official graphic standards for how the flag must appear. Presented here is a chronology of state admissions and one example of how
the flag was graphically interpreted at that time.

13-stars.gif

June 14, 1777 (13 stars)
Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island

President Serving under the Flag:
George Washington

May 1, 1795 (15 stars, 15 stripes)
"The Star Spangled Banner"
Vermont, Kentucky

President Serving under the Flag:
George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison,
James Monroe

April 13, 1818 (20 stars)
Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana,
Mississippi

President Serving under the Flag:
James Monroe

July 4, 1819 (21 stars)
Illinois

President Serving under the Flag:
James Monroe

July 4, 1820 (23 stars)
Alabama, Maine

President Serving under the Flag:
James Monroe

July 4, 1822 (24 stars)
Missouri

President Serving under the Flag:
James Monroe, John Quincy Adams,
Andrew Jackson

July 4, 1836 (25 stars)
Arkansas

President Serving under the Flag:
Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren

July 4, 1837 (26 stars)
Michigan

President Serving under the Flag:
Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk

July 4, 1845 (27 stars)
Florida

President Serving under the Flag:
James K. Polk

July 4, 1846 (28 stars)
Texas

President Serving under the Flag:
James K. Polk

July 4, 1847 (29 stars)
Iowa

President Serving under the Flag:
James K. Polk

July 4, 1848 (30 stars)
Wisconsin

President Serving under the Flag:
James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor,  Millard Fillmore

July 4, 1851 (31 stars)
California

President Serving under the Flag:
Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce,
James Buchanan

July 4, 1858 (32 stars)
Minnesota

President Serving under the Flag:
James Buchanan

July 4, 1859 (33 stars)
Oregon

President Serving under the Flag:
James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln

July 4, 1861 (34 stars)
Kansas

President Serving under the Flag:
Abraham Lincoln

July 4, 1863 (35 stars)
West Virginia

President Serving under the Flag:
Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson

July 4, 1865 (36 stars)
Nevada

President Serving under the Flag:
Andrew Johnson

July 4, 1867 (37 stars)
Nebraska

President Serving under the Flag:
Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes

July 4, 1877 (38 stars)
Colorado

President Serving under the Flag:
Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield,
Chester Alan Arthur, Grover Cleveland,
Benjamin Harrison

July 4, 1890 (43 stars)
North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho

President Serving under the Flag:
Benjamin Harrison

July 4, 1891 (44 stars)
Wyoming

President Serving under the Flag:
Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland

July 4, 1896 (45 stars)
Utah

President Serving under the Flag:
Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt

July 4, 1908 (46 stars)
Oklahoma

President Serving under the Flag:
Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft

July 4, 1912 (48 stars)
New Mexico, Arizona

President Serving under the Flag:
William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson,
Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge,
Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt,
Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower

July 4, 1959 (49 stars)
Alaska

President Serving under the Flag:
Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

July 4, 1960 (50 stars)
Hawaii

President Serving under the Flag:
Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, 
Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon,
Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan , George H. W. Bush, William Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald J. Trump

 
 
Before air-conditioning, paper fans were a welcome promotional giveaway, especially at sweltering Independence Day celebratins.

Before air-conditioning, paper fans were a welcome promotional giveaway, especially at sweltering Independence Day celebratins.

Flag Facts

The Flag Resolution of 1777

"Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” So decreed the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777, as the war for independence raged on. The flag design was so hastily adopted that it did not specify the arrangement of the stars. As a result, Americans interpreted the stars and stripes freely on everything from quilts and jewelry, to games and commercial products.


Patriotic Holidays

Martin Luther King Jr. Day
January 15

Presidents' Day/Washington's Birthday
Third Monday of February

Memorial Day
Last Monday of May

Flag Day
June 14

Independence Day
July 4

Constitution Day
September 17

Election Day
The Tuesday after the first Monday of November

Veterans Day
November 11

Thanksgiving
The Fourth Thursday of November

Bill of Rights Day
December 15