Friday, June 14, 2013

It's Flag Day

15 Stars and Stripes 1795 design over Ft Meigs

We have Flag Day on June 14th because on that day in 1777 Congress adopted the original 13 Stars and Stripes US flag. However, it wasn't until 1916 that it became officially proclaimed as such by Woodrow Wilson and not until 1949 when Congress approved it as National Flag Day. It is kind of confusing because various communities and States have had Flag Day observances as far back as 1861.

What does this have to do with Ohio Valley history? Not much really but you may be interested to know that Ohio was the 17th state in 1803 and there never was a 17-star flag or a 16-star flag for that matter. The 15 star (and 15 stripe) US flag which added the states of Vermont and Kentucky, pictured here over Ft Meigs in Perrysburg OH stayed in use from 1795 until 1818. This is the flag design that inspired our National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, at Ft McHenry during the War of 1812 and was the 3rd longest running design of the US Flag at 23 years.

the actual flag from Fort McHenry
pic taken in the 1870s
In 1818 the stripes were reduced to 13 to represent the original colonies and became a 20-star flag to include the 5 new states of Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee. After that they added one or two stars like crazy 25 times as new States joined the Union, therefore many of the flag designs were in use for only a year or two in most cases until the 50-star flag became the longest running design for over 50 years since its adoption in 1960.

If you ask me Ohio got cheated out of a 17 star US flag and if Puerto Rico ever gets in as #51 that's possibly going to make the flag look closer to the original 1777 thirteen star Betsy Ross flag.

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