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national flag
the flag

he 50 states of the United States of America today, are represented by the 50 stars on a blue  background. The 13 red and white stripes are representing the 13 original states known as "the Old Glory". (Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island).

The official specification for federal procurements of U.S. flags is set by the General Services Administration. At the Defense Technology Information Center website is GSA "Federal Specification, Flag, National, United States of America and Flag, Union Jack," DDD-F-416E, dated November 27, 1981. It specifies the colors by reference to "Standard Color Cards of America" maintained by the Color Association of the United States, Inc. This is a color system designed for textile use. The specifications are:

           Cable No. 70180    Old Glory Red
           Cable No. 70001    White
           Cable No. 70075    Old Glory Blue

The colors used in the flag would be in the PANTONE SYSTEM:
PMS 193 C (RGB 191, 10, 48) and  PMS 281 C (RGB 0, 40, 104).

The symbolism of the Flag, interpreted by George Washington:

"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."

Other names for the US Flag are "the Stars and Stripes" and "the Star Spangled Banner", the last one referring to the original flag that was flying over fort McHenry during the attack of the British, and inspired Francis Scott Key to write his poem that became the national anthem of the United States of America. The name "Old Glory" was given on August 10, 1831, by Captain William Driver. A new star is/was added to the flag on the 4th of July following the entry into the Union of a new state. (see History of the US Flag)

The Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands.
One nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.


Mary Pickersgill
Nobody knows with absolute certainty who designed the first flag 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 the Executive Order of June 24, 1912, neither the order of the stars, nor the proportions of the flag was prescribed. That's why flags dating before this period sometimes show unusual arrangements of the stars and odd proportions. George Washington's original pencil sketch for the flag indicated 6-pointed stars. Betsy Ross, however, recommended a 5-pointed star. When the committee protested that it was too difficult to make, she took a piece of paper, folded it, and with a single snip of her scissors, produced a symmetrical five-pointed star. This impressed her audience so that they readily agreed to her suggestion. Major George Armistead (later promoted to Lt.
flag compared to human size
Col.), an officer during the War of 1812, needed a large US flag to fly over fort McHenry in Baltimore. In 1813 he turned to a local flag maker: Mary Pickersgill (1776-1857). Mary learned the flag making skill from her mother. Armistead hired Mary and her 13-year old daughter Caroline to make two flags: the Star Spangled Banner and a small storm flag. Mrs. Pickersgill spent several weeks measuring, cutting, and sewing the 15 stars and stripes. When the time came to
The Birth of Old Glory by Percy Moran

note: Betsy Ross is known to have made flags during the
American Revolution, although the long-accepted story
that she designed and made the first American national
flag (the Stars and Stripes) is generally discredited.

sew the elements of the flag together, they realized that their house was not large enough. Mrs. Pickersgill thus asked the owner of nearby Claggett's brewery for permission to assemble the flag on the building's floor during evening hours. He agreed, and the women worked by candlelight to finish it. It was ready in august 1813 and was made of wool stripes and cotton stars. He paid her $ 405,90. The flag had 15 red and white stripes and 15 stars on a blue background, and measured 30 by 42 feet (9,14 by 12,80 m) and weighted 50 pounds (22,65 kg). The size was typical for garrison use in the 19th century. What began as a simple garrison flag became a valued keepsake in the family of Lt. Col. George Armistead after the attack on fort McHenry in 1814. The popularity of Francis Scott Key's anthem transformed it into a national treasure. In 1907 Eben Appleton, George Armistead's grandson, placed the flag on loan to the Smithsonian Institution. In 1912 Appleton converted the loan to a gift. The original historic flag can be seen at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

  • First Flag Act of June 14, 1777, "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."
  • Act of January 13, 1794 - provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795. Act of April 4, 1818 - 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, signed by President Monroe.
  • Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 - established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.
  • Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
  • Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

time line

1776 January 1 - The Grand Union flag is displayed on Prospect Hill. It has 13 alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner (the canton).
1776 May - Betsy Ross reports that she sewed the first American flag.
1777 June 14 - Continental Congress adopts the following: "Resolved: 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".
(stars represent: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island).
1795 15 stars and 15 stripes, adding Vermont and Kentucky.
1814 September 14 - Francis Scott Key writes an anthem, "the Star Spangled Banner", inspired by the fact that the flag is still flying over fort McHenry after an attack by the British.
On march 3rd 1931, due to the efforts of Mrs. Reuben Ross Holloway and congressman J. Charles Linthicum of Baltimore, the congress made "the Star Spangled Banner" the official national anthem of the USA, although already adopted as such by the Army and Navy.
1818 20 stars and 13 stripes (it remains at 13 hereafter), adding Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana and Mississippi.
1819 21 stars, adding Illinois.
1820 23 stars, adding Alabama and Maine.
1822 24 stars, adding Missouri.
1836 25 stars, adding Arkansas.
1837 26 stars, adding Michigan.
1845 27 stars, adding Florida.
1846 28 stars, adding Texas.
1847 29 stars, adding Iowa.
1848 30 stars, adding Wisconsin.
1851 31 stars, adding California.
1858 32 stars, adding Minnesota.
1859 33 stars, adding Oregon.
1861 34 stars, adding Kansas.
First Confederate Flag (Stars and Bars) adopted in Montgomery, Alabama

Stars and Bars
1863 35 stars, adding West Virginia.
1865 36 stars, adding Nevada.
1867 37 stars, adding Nebraska.
1877 38 stars, adding Colorado.
1890 43 stars, adding North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington and Idaho.
1891 44 stars, adding Wyoming.
1896 45 stars, adding Utah.
1908 46 stars, adding Oklahoma.
1912 48 stars, adding New Mexico and Arizona.
1959 49 stars, adding Alaska.
1960 50 stars, adding Hawaii.