The Flag of America comprises of thirteen stripes of equal size running horizontally across the banner and a blue rectangle on the canton consisting of fifty white stars. The thirteen horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with the red stripe being at the top and bottom. The thirteen stripes symbolize the thirteen British colonies that gained independence from Great Britain in 1776 and were the founding states of the US. The fifty stars with five-points represent the fifty states comprising the USA.
The Thirteen Founding States of The US
The thirteen colonies were grouped into three, the Middle Colonies, New England colonies, and Southern Colonies. The colony of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Province of Massachusetts Bay, and Province of New Hampshire made up the New England Colonies. The Province of New Jersey, Delaware Colony, Province of New York, proprietary colony, and the province of Pennsylvania made up the Middle Colonies. The province of Carolina (North and South Carolina), Colony and Dominion of Virginia, Maryland, and the province of Georgia made up the Southern Colonies.
Who Designed the American Flag?
The first American flag was designed by Francis Hopkinson in 1777, while the current American flag was designed by 17-year old Robert G. Heft. Heft designed the flag as a high school project in 1958 and the flag was officially embraced in July 1960. The flag resolution was passed on June 14, 1777, and it stated that the flag would have 13 alternating red and white stripes running horizontally on the banner and thirteen white stars in a blue rectangle on the canton. Since then, June 14th has been celebrated as Flag Day in the US.
Previous Versions of the Flag
The first flag was named the Grand Union and it had the Union Jack at the canton instead of the present day rectangle with stars. The rest of the flag which comprises the 13 horizontal stripes was still in use back then. This flag was in use until 1777 when Philadelphia Congress agreed on a flag and a new flag design was chosen. The Congress did not specify the fine print of the flag like the number of red stripes versus the number of white, or the placement of the white stars in the blue rectangle, so the first flags had several different versions. In 1795 Kentucky and Vermont joined the US so the number of stripes and white stars was increased to 15. The flag's design was retained for a few years even with new member states joining the Union. On April 4, 1818, the Congress decided to review the flag and it was decided, on the suggestion of Samuel C. Reid, that the stripes on the flag would be reduced to 13 to celebrate the 13 founding states, and a star to be added to the flag whenever a new state joins the Union. It was also decided that, following the admission of a new state, the new flag design would be raised on July 4th. The current flag with 50 stars is the US flag that has been in use for the longest time.
Why are There 13 Stripes on the American Flag?
The thirteen stripes of the American flag represent the original thirteen British colonies that were the founding states of the US. These are Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Georgia.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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