Saturday, July 3, 2004

Flag history

No one knows with certainty who designed the first stars and stripes or who made it. Congressman Francis Hopkinson seems most likely to have designed it, and few historians believe that Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, made the first one.

Until June 24, 1912, flags sometimes showed unusual arrangements of the stars and odd proportions, these features being left to the discretion of the flag maker.

• June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: "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."

• Jan. 13, 1794 - Act provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.

• April 4, 1818 - Act provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state.

• June 24, 1912 - President William Howard Taft established proportions of the flag and ordered star arrangement of six horizontal rows of eight each.

• Jan. 3, 1959 - President Dwight Eisenhower ordered arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars, staggered horizontally and vertically.

• Aug. 21, 1959 - Arrangement revised to nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically ordered.


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