The United States Flag first came into existence with the passing of the Flag Act on June 14th, 1777, at a meeting in Philadelphia of the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress. The resolution read, “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”.
At the time, there was no mention or explanation of the significance of the colors adopted. This was clarified by the book on the U.S. flag, first published by the House of Representatives in 1977. The book further clarified on the significance of the stars and stripes on the flag stating, “The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.”
However, the design of the flag held great significance for the Founding Fathers. The 13 red and white stripes represent the 13 colonies that rebelled against the British Crown and were the first states in the Union. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states that form the United States of America.
On August 3rd, 1949, through an Act of Congress, President Truman signed the order designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.
Significance of the gold fringe on some flags
The gold fringe used in some flags was first reported to have been used for “honorable enrichment” by the military in 1895, to signify a special occasion. The subsequent use of the gold trims on flags has been limited to special occasions and for indoor use only.
History of the Flag of the United States of America
It is unclear who exactly designed the U.S. Flag, but some historians credit Congressman Francis Hopkinson for designing it. Another section believes it was Betsy Ross, a seamstress in Philadelphia, who designed it.
- On June 14th, 1777, the Flag Act introduced the U.S. Flag with 13 stars.
- On January 13th, 1794, the Congress provided for 15 stars and 15 stripes on the flag from May 1795.
- On April 4th, 1818, the flag Act allowed for 13 stripes and one star to be added on the 4th of July for every state that joined the United States.
- On June 24th, 1912, the flag specified the proportions of the flag and allowed for stars to be placed in six horizontal rows comprising eight stars each, with one tip of each star pointing upwards.
- On January 3rd, 1959, it was adopted that the flag would have seven rows of seven stars each, all staggered horizontally and vertically.
- On August 21st, 1959, the resolution adopted nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.
Today, the U.S. Flag displays 50 stars, each representing one state.
Significance of color in the Great Seal
In 1989, the House of Representatives released the book “Our Flag” which spoke of the significance of the colors the founding fathers placed while devising the Great Seal.
On July 4th, 1776, the Continental Congress passed a resolution authorizing a committee to devise a seal for the United States of America, that reflected the Founding Father’s beliefs, values and sovereignty of the new nation.
Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress at the time, explained to the Congress the significance of the colors in devising the Great Seal and spoke the words “The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valor, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.” The Great Seal was adopted on June 20th, 1782.