Flag Facts and Trivia...
The flag displaying 13 stars in a circle with 13 stripes, according to legend, was made by Betsy Ross at George Washington’s request in June of 1777. Contrary to popular belief, the Betsy Ross Flag is not acknowledged as the first official U.S. Flag. . . Although some writings refer to the Betsy Ross as being adopted as our first flag, our first "official" legal U.S. flag had a staggered pattern of stars.
There are 27 legal U.S. flags that have been flown throughout our history. By law, a star is added on July 4th following the admission of the State(s) to the Union. The staggered & symmetrical star patterns have been used on all 27 of our legal U.S. flags. The first of these 27 was the flag for the original 13 states, from 1777-1795, and it had 5 rows of stars, 3,2,3,2,3. The first flag to replace it had 15 stars. A little-known fact is that it also had 15 stripes (pictured below). In use from 1795 -1818, it acknowledged the new states of Kentucky & Vermont. During the War of 1812 this Star Spangled Banner, as it was referred to, was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key, who composed what later became our National Anthem. The restored flag now hangs in the Smithsonian.
Born of the need for a more practical design to accommodate new states entering the Union, on April 4, 1818, Congress established the number of stripes to always be thirteen, seven red and six white, and provided for the addition of stars only for each new state. The current 50-star flag has been in use since July 4, 1960, when the star for Hawaii, our 50th state, was added. (Alaska, our 49th state, was added in 1959).
No U.S. Flag ever becomes obsolete. Each of the 27 flags is still a legal U.S. Flag and may be flown at any time. All 27 are available from Harbortown Flag, along with 50 other historical flags of the U.S. These other flags include the Bennington (76), the Betsy Ross, the Gadsden (Don’t Tread on Me), pictured at the right, the Culpepper (Liberty or Death), Confederate flags, and other specialty historical flags.
There are currently 189 countries who are members of the UN (United Nations), and 35 who are members of the OAS (Organization of American States). The flag pictured at the left is the flag of the United Nations. Along with the flags of the 50 states, there are also flags for the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories, such as Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
From 1862 until 1885 the cavalry guidon used by the U.S. Army followed the national flag as its basic design, but with a deep triangle cut into the fly end. This banner saw extensive service during the Civil War and the subsequent battles with Indians in the west. General Custer, for example, flew this guidon at his famous "last stand." From his description, it seems that the flag of Ohio designed by John Eisenmann was inspired by this cavalry guidon, although it had been out of use for 16 years at the time. There are some differences between the two flags. Mr. Eisenmann only wished to suggest the loyalty of Ohio to the Union. He patented his design in 1901, and the Ohio General Assembly (the State Legislature) adopted the flag officially on May 9, 1902. At that time, Eisenmann signed over his patent on the design. The inspiration of his flag was explained as follows: The triangles formed by the main lines of the flag represent the hills and valleys in the State Seal. The stripes represent the roads and waterways. The stars around the circle represent the 13 original states. The fact that Ohio was the 17th state admitted into the Union is shown by the additional 4 stars. The white circle with its red center represents the initial letter of Ohio and the "Buckeye State." (The buckeye was made the official state tree in 1953.) The Ohio flag was flown over the Ohio Building at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901 held at Buffalo, NY. President McKinley saw it there just before his assassination at the Exposition.