Also known as the Continental flag, it is the first true U.S. Flag. It combined the British King’s Colours and the thirteen stripes signifying Colonial unity. George Washington liked this design so well that he chose it to be flown to celebrate the formation of the Continental Army on New Years Day, 1776. On that day the Grand Union Flag was proudly raised on Prospect Hill in Somerville, near his headquarters at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
This Flag became the Official United States Flag on May 1st,1795. Two stars were added for the admission of Vermont (the 14th State on March 4th, 1791) and Kentucky (the 15th State on June 1st, 1792, and was to last for 23 years. The five Presidents who served under this flag were; George Washington (1789-1797), John Adams (1797-1801), Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), James Madison (1809-1817), and James Monroe (1817-1825). The 15-star, 15-stripe flag was authorized by the Flag Act of January 13, 1794, adding 2 stripes and 2 Stars. The regulation went into effect on May 1, 1795. This flag was the only U.S. Flag to have more than 13 stripes. It was immortalized by Francis Scott Key during the bombardment of Fort McHenry, Sept 13, 1814.
Realizing that the addition of a new star and new stripe for each new State was impractical, Congress passed the Flag Act of 1818 which returned the flag design to 13 stripes and specified 20 stars for the 20 states. This Flag became the Official United States Flag on April 13th, 1818. Five stars were added for the admission of Tennessee (the 16th State on June 1st, 1796), Ohio (the 17th State on March 1st, 1803), Louisiana (the 18th State on April 30th, 1812), Indiana (the 19th State on December 11th, 1816), and Mississippi (the 20th State on December 10, 1817), and was to last for just one year. The only President to serve under this flag was James Monroe (1817-1825).
This flag, often called “The Great Star” would have become the official flag with the great star adjusted to meet the addition of states to the union. This flag was designed by Captain Samuel Chester Reid of the U.S. Navy. Congress adopted both his 13 stripes idea and the idea of adding a star for each future state. What they did not adopt was the “Great Star” notion. This flag flew over the Capitol dome for at least six months of 1818 and is recognized as an official flag of the United States of America.
Raised by President Lincoln on February 22, 1861, over Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to send a message to Southern states, which were preparing to secede from the Union.This Flag became the Official United States Flag on July 4th, 1861. A star was added for the admission of Kansas (January 29th, 1861) and was to last for 2 years. The only President to serve under this flag was Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865).
On July 4,1912, the U.S. flag grew to 48 stars with the addition of New Mexico (January 6th, 1912) and Arizona (February 14, 1912) Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 – established the 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. This flag was official for 47 years, longer than any other flag, through two World Wars and the emergence of the United States of America as the leading nation of the world. Eight Presidents served under this flag; William H. Taft (1909-1913), Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921), Warren Harding (1921-1923), Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929), Herbert Hoover (1929-1933), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), Harry S.Truman (1945-1953), Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961).
On January 3rd,1959 Alaska was formally granted statehood placing the 49th star on our Flag. 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. The first 49-star flag was made in the Army Quartermaster Depot at Philadelphia, and was used in the White House ceremony when President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) signed the proclamation admitting Alaska to the Union. Subsequently, this flag was carried to Philadelphia by Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, who gave it to the mayor of Philadelphia to raise over Independence Hall on July 4th, 1959. After these ceremonies Scott gave the flag to his colleague, Senator Earnest Gruening of Alaska, who, in turn, delivered it to Governor William A. Eagan to be flown over the state capitol at Juneau. This flag was later given to the Alaskan State Mueseum for preservation. The 49-Star flag was official for only one year, until July 4, 1960, when Hawaii achieved its Statehood and the 50-Star flag was born. President Eisenhower was the only President to serve under this flag.
Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizon tally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically. This is the current flag of the United States. Hawaii was admitted as the 50th state on August 21st, 1959. The 27th flag of the United States became the official flag on July 4th, 1960. Ten presidents have served under this flag; Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961), John F. Kennedy (1961-1963), Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969), Richard M. Nixon (1969-1974), Gerald R. Ford (1974-1977), Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Ronald W. Reagan (1981-1989), George Bush (1989-1993), William J. Clinton (1993-2001) George W. Bush (2001-2009), and Barack H. Obama (2009-present).
Photos courtesy of Cliff.