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Stars and Stripes - Learn the history of the American flag

Published By — Mar 09
Stars and Stripes - Learn the history of the American flag

American Flag

"Old Glory, Stars and Stripes, the Star-Spangled Banner" - Since its inception, the American flag has been an important part of the nation's history. Surviving for over 200 years, the flag has grown and developed both physically and symbolically in times of success and crisis.

The American flag, which has survived countless battles, has inspired heroes and artists and has evolved over time in response to the growth of the country it represents. Used to show nationalism, the flag is so important that its story tells the story of America itself. For the American people, it represents freedom, dignity and the true meaning of being an American.

The following is a collection of interesting facts and customs about the American flag and how it should be displayed.



The History of the American Flag : The birth

The origins of the American flag, known worldwide as "Old Glory" or "Stars and Stripes" are unknown. Its history is full of mystery and charm just like the history of the republic it embodies.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress approved the first design of the American flag with 13 stripes representing the original 13 colonies of the United States, with an act establishing this flag as official and representing the birth of the new nation after fighting and gained independence from England. The resolution stated:

“It is established that the flag of the United States is of thirteen stripes, alternating between red and white; that the union is represented by thirteen stars, white in a blue field, which represent a new constellation ".

As the United States expanded rapidly after the colonial period and with the addition of new states, the flag had to evolve along with the changing composition of the country.

The-birth-of-Stars-and-Stripee or Old Glory

Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed multiple acts that changed the flag design to reflect new realities as new states were admitted. It was too messy to add new stripes for each state, so it was decided that the number of stripes would remain the same: 13 for the 13 founding colonies. The new states would be reflected in the number of stars of the box in the upper left corner of the American flag.

In honor of this act, on August 3, 1949, President Harry S. Truman officially declared June 14 as Flag Day. Legend has it that the first official American flag was designed by a Philadelphia seamstress, Betsy Ross, who modified the previous version adopted in late 1775 which featured the British Union Jack along with 13 stripes for the 13 colonies. The seamstress, Betsy Ross, replaced the Union Jack with a 13-star circle designed to represent each of the original colonies. This version was officially adopted on June 14, 1777.

For further information on the history of the American flag, and precisely why it is called Old Glory, you can visit the Smithsonian Magazine website

The definitive version of the American flag was adopted in 1959 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when Alaska was annexed in the same year.

How many Stripes on American Flag : 13 stripes for 13 states 


Now let's see what the 13 states are represented by the stripes of the United States flag:

  • New Hampshire

New Hampshire is a colony founded in 1638 by John Wheelwright that became a State of the Union on June 21, 1788. It was the first state to vote for the declaration of independence on July 4, 1776. It is one of the states of New England and is characterized by vast natural landscapes and picturesque villages. The main cities of New Hampshire are: Concord, Manchester, Nashua, Derry, Rochester, Salem, Dover, Merrimack, Londonderry, Hudson. The New Hampshire motto is live free or die.

  • Massachusetts

Massachusetts originally consisted of two separate states: the Plymouth Pilgrim Fathers' Colony (1620) and the Puritan Bay of Massachusetts Colony (1630). Its main cities are Boston (capital), Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, Cambridge, Brockton, New Bedford, Fall River, Lynn, Quincy, Plymouth, Salem, Lexington, Concord. The Boston Freedom Trail is a red line that crosses the symbolic sites of the American Revolution.

  • Rhode Island

It is a colony created in Providence in 1636 on land purchased by the Narragansetts tribe, a young pastor Roger Williams and the Brown brothers, all dissidents. Roger Williams, one of the first to challenge British local authorities under John Winthrop's command, was driven out of Massachusetts Bay by the Puritans. Rhode Island became a State of the Union on May 29, 1790. It is the smallest state in the United States, but also one of the most populous. The main cities are: Providence, Warwick, Cranston, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Coventry, Cumberland, Portsmouth, Newport.

  • Connecticut

Connecticut is a colony founded in 1636 by Thomas Hooker in Hartford, its capital. It is a US state in southern New England, with a combination of coastal towns and rural areas dotted with small towns. Connecticut became a state of the Union on January 9, 1788. The main cities of Connecticut are Hartford, New-Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford, Waterbury, Norwalk, Danbury, New Britain, Greenwich. The city of New Haven owes its fame to Yale University and its illustrious Peabody Museum of Natural History.

  • Delaware

It is a colony that was created in 1638. Delaware is a coastal state of the USA, bordered to the west and south by the state of Maryland, to the north by the state of Pennsylvania and 3 hours from the state of New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean. Delaware became a State of the Union on December 7, 1787, the first to ratify the Constitution. The main cities of this state are: Dover, Wilmington, Newark, Milford, Seaford, Middletown, Elsmere, Smyrna, New Castle, Georgetown. Its capital is Dover.

  • Maryland

It is a colony created by Cecil Calvert Lord Baltimore and his family in 1632. Maryland became a state of the Union on April 28, 1788. Characterized by its multiple rivers and coastlines that line the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The major cities of Maryland are Annapolis, Baltimore, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Bowie, Rockville, Hagerstown. Its largest city, Baltimore, has long been an important seaport.

  • Virginia

It is a colony founded by John Smith in Jamestown in 1607. Being one of 13 colonies, the state has historic buildings including Monticello, the iconic plantation of founding father Thomas Jefferson, in Charlottesville. Jamestown Settlement and Colonial Williamsburg are museums that bring history to life with reconstructions from the colonial era and the American Revolution. The main cities are Richmond, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Williamsburg, Chesapeake, Newport News, Hampton, Alexandria, Portsmouth, Roanoke, Lynchburg.

  • North Carolina

It is a colony created by the settlers of Virginia in 1653. North Carolina is a state in the southeastern United States that offers a varied landscape, ranging from the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian mountain range. It became a US state on November 21, 1789. Its main cities are Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Cary, High Point, Wilmington, Asheville. The largest city in the state is Charlotte. The latter is the home of the Carolina Panthers NFL team and includes museums such as the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

  • South Carolina

Created by English settlers in 1663. South Carolina is a state in the southeastern United States known for its subtropical beaches and marshy islands. The main cities of South Carolina are Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Rock Hill, Mount Pleasant, Spartanburg, Sumter, Hilton Head Island, Florence. Charleston is a historic city with pastel-toned houses, Old South Plantations, and Fort Sumter.

  • Georgia

Georgia is a colony founded in 1733 by James Oglethorpe. Georgia became a state of the Union of the United States on January 2, 1788. Major cities in Georgia are Atlanta, Augusta-Richmond County, Savannah, Columbus, Athens-Clarke Country, Macon, Roswell, Albany.

  • New York

It is a colony founded by Peter Minnuit on the island of Manhattan in 1626. New York became a State of the Union on July 26, 1788. Its main cities are Albany, New York, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, Syracuse, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Schenectady, Utica. The multiple attractions include skyscrapers such as the Empire State Building and the impressive Central Park.

  • New Jersey

Like South Carolina, it is a colony created by English colonists in 1664. New Jersey became a state of the Union on December 18, 1787. It is a state in the northeastern United States and boasts approximately 130 miles of Atlantic coastline. The main cities are Trenton, Princeton, Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Edison, Woodbridge, Dover, Hamilton, Trenton, Camden. The Jersey Shore is home to major seaside towns such as the historic town of Asbury Park and Cape May, which is decorated with perfectly preserved Victorian buildings.

  • Pennsylvania

It is a colony founded in 1682. Pennsylvania, a state in the northeastern United States, is one of 13 colonies that gave birth to the United States. It became a State of the Union on 12 December 1787. The main cities are Harrisburg, Philadelphia (30,000 inhabitants in the 18th century), Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Upper Darby, Reading, Scranton, Bethlehem. Philadelphia is the largest city in the state of Pennsylvania.

How many Stars on American Flag : 50 Stars for 50 States

The American flag has undergone many changes over the centuries since its adoption. There are 27 versions that have followed over time. As mentioned earlier, the first version of the flag represented the United States from 1777-1795 and was born a year after the declaration of independence. As we originally read, the base of the flag had only 13 stars aligned in a circular shape and 13 horizontal bands of red and white representing the 13 British colonies that had become independent.

how many stars on american flag

The second version of the American flag was adopted in May 1795, the year in which the number of stars and stripes was raised to 15 after the integration into the union of the states of Vermont on March 4, 1791 and Kentucky on June 1, 1792. This new 15 stars and 15 stripes version is known as “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

After a British bombing during the war, amateur poet Francis Scott Key was so inspired by the sight of the American flag still flying over Baltimore's Fort McHenry that he wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" on September 14, 1814. It officially became, in 1931, the national anthem of the United States.

After the Anglo-American War of 1812 other states were added to the union and in particular: Tennessee (June 1796), Ohio (March 1803), Louisiana (1812), Indiana (1816) and Mississippi (1817). Unable to modify the striped structure (the flag would become confusing), in 1818 the American Congress approved the third of the three main acts in reference to the flag stating that the pattern of the same had to return to the original configuration of 13 alternating stripes of red on white, representing the 13 founding colonies, and that a star would be added for each new associated state.

Over time, various versions followed.


The history of the American Flag : The Chronology
21 stars
July 4, 1819

The American flag included 13 stripes and 21 stars with the integration into the Union of Illinois in December 1818.

23 stars
July 4, 1820

The flag included 13 stripes and 23 stars with the annexation of Alabama in December 1819 and of Maine in March 1820.

24 stars
July 4, 1822

The star count rose to 24 with integration into the Missouri Union in August 1821.

25 stars
July 4, 1836

The flag included 13 stripes and 25 stars with the union of Arkansas in June 1836.

26 stars
July 4, 1837

Stars number 26 touched Michigan in January 1837.

27 stars
July 4, 1845

It reached 27 stars with the integration into the Florida Union in March 1845.

28 stars
July 4, 1846,

The American flag included 13 stripes and 28 stars with the integration into the Union of Texas in December 1845.

29 stars
July 4, 1847

The American flag includes 13 stripes and 29 stars with the integration into the Iowa Union in December 1846.

30 stars
July 4, 1848

The American flag included 13 stripes and 30 stars with the integration into the Union of Wisconsin in May 1848.

31 stars
July 4, 1851

The American flag included 13 bands and 31 stars, following its integration into the California Union in September 1850.

32 stars
July 4, 1858

The American flag included 13 stripes and 32 stars following its integration into the Union of Minnesota in May 1858.

33 stars
July 4, 1859

The American flag included 13 bands and 33 stars due to integration into the Oregon Union in February 1859.

34 stars
July 4, 1861

The American flag included 13 stripes and 34 stars following its integration into the Kansas Union in January 1861

35 stars
July 4, 1863

The American flag included 13 stripes and 35 stars following its integration into the Union of West Virginia in June 1863.

36 stars
July 4, 1865

The American flag included 13 stripes and 36 stars following its integration into the Nevada Union in October 1864.

37 stars
July 4, 1867

The American flag included 13 stripes and 37 stars following its integration into the Union of Nebraska in March 1867.

38 stars
July 4, 1877

The American flag included 13 bands and 38 stars following its integration into the Colorado Union in August 1876.

43 stars
July 4, 1890

The American flag includes 13 bands and 43 stars following integration into the Union of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington in November 1889; and Idaho in July 1890.

44 stars
July 4, 1891

the American flag included 13 bands and 44 stars following its integration into the Union of Wyoming in July 1890.

45 stars
July 4, 1896

the American flag included 13 stripes and 45 stars following its integration into the Utah Union in January 1896.

46 stars
July 4, 1908

the American flag included 13 stripes and 46 stars following its integration into the Oklahoma Union in November 1907

48 stars
July 4, 1912

the American flag included 13 stripes and 48 stars following the integration into the Union of New Mexico in January 1912 and of Arizona in February of that year.

49 stars
July 4, 1959

the American flag comprised 13 bands and 49 stars following its integration into the Alaska Union in January 1959.

50 stars
July 4, 1960

the American flag includes 13 bands and 50 stars due to the integration into the Union of Hawaii in August 1959.

This will be the definitive version that we still know today in which the 50 white colored stars arranged in 9 rows horizontal and resting on a blue background. Meaning of the colors of the American flag.

The colors of the American flag

Regarding the meaning of colors and symbols, President George Washington stated:

"we take the stars from the sky, the red of our country of origin (England), but with the white stripes dividing them, thus showing the world independence, and these same white stripes will pass to posterity as a symbol of freedom".

The white band therefore means purity and innocence, the red refers to courage and valor, and the blue means hope, loyalty, perseverance, justice and truth.

American Flag Etiquette

For American citizens, there is a strict protocol to be observed to best honor the flag.

  • To ensure that the American flag is always illuminated, it must only be hoisted from sunrise to sunset.
  • The flag must always move freely.
  • Even if hung on a wall, the flag should never be hidden or draped.
  • Wherever the flag is hung or hoisted, it must always be kept clean.
  • The flag must never touch the ground, even when it is being prepared to be hoisted.
  • The stars must face north.
  • The flag may not be used as decoration or clothing.
  • Only in an emergency can the flag be raised upside down.
  • If the flag is placed on a road, the stars must be facing north or east.
  • If multiple flags are placed in a row, the American flag must be placed to the left of the spectator.
  • When the flags of various states or local authorities are shown with the American flag, the latter should be the highest.
  • When the American flag is carried in procession or parade, members of the public should stand up, look at the flag and put a hand on their heart. Men have to take off their hats.
  • During parades that include the American flag, veterans, military, police and fire brigade personnel must salute the flag.

There are a few places where the US flag is waved 24 hours a day, by presidential proclamation or by law:

  •  Fort McHenry, National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Flag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland
  • United States Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial), Arlington, Virginia
  • On the lawn in the city of Lexington, Massachusetts
  • On the White House, Washington, DC
  • At US customs ports of entry
  • On the grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

To this day, not only for American citizens but for the majority of the world's population the American flag remains a vibrant symbol of the principles of democracy, justice and freedom.

If you are a fan of American culture or simply want to visit the historical places that contributed to the creation of the US state, remember that in order to enter US territory, you will need to be in possession of an ordinary US tourist visa. Citizens of the countries adhering to the Visa Waiver Program, they can submit a request to obtain the ESTA USA permit. The e-Visa is for short stays. The limit is 90 consecutive days of stay in the USA. For information on how to submit the form, you can consult the ESTA guide.

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