Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Unofficial Flag

Stonington, CT

Every school child learns that the original flag of the United States contained 13 stars and stripes, representing the original 13 states.  In 1795, when Kentucky and Vermont joined the union, the number of stars and stripes was increased to 15 .  It was this flag that has become known as the "Star Spangled Banner" flag for it inspired Francis Scott Key to write the lyrics to what would become our National Anthem.  About this time, Congress decided they really needed to standardize the flag, and they realized that it would become rather unwieldily if they kept adding stars, and stripes.  Congress worked pretty slow in those days as well, and it took quite some time before they agreed on just adding a new star for each state that joined the union, while returning the number of stripes to 13 to honor the original states.  When this flag act became official in 1818, the union had grown to 20 states, so the next official flag contained 20 stars and 13 stripes.  The flag pictured here has 16 stars and stripes and therefore is not an official flag.  It's a replica of a battle flag which flew over Stonington during the Battle of Stonington on August 10, 1814, a month before Francis Scott Key penned his poem. It was made by a local Congregational church sewing circle sometime between 1796 and 1803 which would make it older than the more famous "Star Spangled Banner".  These ladies couldn't wait for an act of Congress, so they added a 16th star and stripe to recognize the state of Tennessee who joined the Union in 1796.  The original battle flag survives to this day in storage.  More can be read about this flag here.

1 comment:

  1. Well, here is a first! I never thought about there being unofficial flags.