The Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania , adopted a resolution on June 14, 1777, stating that the flag of the United States would have thirteen stripes, alternating red and white. (See Continental Congress, Second .) The union would be symbolized with thirteen white stars on a blue field. There was no direction as to how many points each star would have or how they would be arranged. As a result, the first American flags varied in pattern.
Popular legend has it that the first American flag was sewed by a Philadelphia seamstress named Betsy Ross (1752–1836). Ross knew General George Washington (1732–1799), who was the leader of the Continental army at the time. Historians have not been able to verify the Ross story, although it is known that Ross sewed flags for the Pennsylvania navy in 1777. Many various flags were sewn throughout the American Revolution (1775–83), but the flag commonly referred to as the Betsy Ross flag (with the stars arranged in a circular pattern) did not appear until the early 1790s.
The first unofficial national flag was called the Grand Union Flag or the Continental Colors, and it was raised at the request of Washington near his headquarters outside Boston, Massachusetts , on January 1, 1776. This flag had thirteen alternating red and white horizontal strips and, in the upper left corner, the emblem of the British flag of the time. The first official flag, known as Old Glory or the Stars and Stripes, was approved by the Continental Congress the following year on the day the flag resolution was adopted. The emblem of the British Union Flag was
replaced by thirteen white stars on a blue background, representing the thirteen colonies . No one knows with certainty who designed the flag, though many historians believe it was Francis Hopkinson (1737–1791), a member of the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence .
In the twenty-first century, the American flag has thirteen horizontal stripes: seven red and six white alternating. The union of fifty states is represented by fifty white, five-pointed stars on a field of blue in the upper left quarter of the flag. President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969; served 1953–61) gave specific proportional measurements for each facet of the flag in August of 1959.
"American Flag." U*X*L Encyclopedia of U.S. History. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 18, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/american-flag
"American Flag." U*X*L Encyclopedia of U.S. History. . Retrieved July 18, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/american-flag
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.