History About The First American Flag
The Flag Resolution was passed on June 14, 1777 by the Second Continental Congress. This Resolution outlined the colors and design elements for the flag, but not the actual design itself. It reads: “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.”
Betsy Ross is believed by many to have sewn the first American flag. It is said she based her design on a sketch drawn by George Washington himself. Some historians, however, credit the flag’s first design to Francis Hopkinson, whose signature appears on the Declaration of Independence.
How Many Designs Have There Been?
Since the first flag was sewn, 27 different designs of the American flag have been created. The position of the stars was left up to the creator of the flag until the United States welcomed our 48th state in 1912. President William Howard Taft wanted the stars to be in uniform lines, mandating there be six rows of eight to represent all 48 states. The next two flags also had standardized patterns.
The current flag we now wave was presented on July 4, 1960. This design was complete with fifty stars to represent each state, including the 50th state of Hawaii.
How Flag Day Came To Be
The first celebration of the flag was held on June 14, 1885 by B.J. Cigrand. He was a school teacher at Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6 and decided to start a tradition of observing June 14 each year as ‘Flag Birthday.’ This small celebration later became known as Flag Day.
In 1889 a New York City kindergarten teacher, George Balch, observed June 14 as ‘Flag Day’ and the State Board of Education of New York later adopted and implemented that celebrations should start being held once every year on June 14 to honor the American flag.
Colonel J. Granville Leach suggested to the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America that they adopt a resolution requiring Philadelphia’s Mayor, authority figures, and citizens to have the American flag on display starting June 14, 1893. This resolution soon evolved into Flag Day, which included special celebrations and each child was given a small flag to wave in honor of the United States of America.
June 14, 1894 was observed as Flag Day by New York’s governor, asking that the American flag be put on display on all public building of New York. A special celebration was held in Douglas, Garfield, Humboldt, Lincoln and Washington Parks with more than 300,000 public school children in attendance.
Inspired by all of the different celebrations and events held for the previous 30 years, President Woodrow Wilson gave a Proclamation on May 30, 1916 establishing June 14 as Flag Day. Many different communities throughout the United States began to observe Flag Day because of Wilson’s Proclamation, but it wasn’t declared a holiday until 1949 when President Harry S. Truman signed an Act of Congress, making June 14th National Flag Day. Every year since, the President of the United States issues a Flag Day Proclamation, to honor both flag and country.
Flag Day continues to be celebrated across the United States. Today marks the 235th anniversary of the adoption of the American flag.