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The American Flag

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

It is related that the flag which was raised at Cambridge, January 2. 1776, by Washington, was composed of thirteen red and white stripes, with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew emblazoned on the blue canton in place of the stars. This flag was also carried by the fleet under command of Commander Esek Hopkins, when it sailed from the Delaware Capes, February 17, 1776. In the following year, June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed a resolution That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation." How or by whom the idea of the star was first suggested is uncertain, although there are some who ascribe it to John Adams, while others claim the en-tire flag was borrowed from the coat of arms of the Washington family. In this flag the stars were arranged in a circle, although no form was officially prescribed. It is supposed that the first display of the National flag at a military post was at Fort Schuyler, on the site of the village of Rome, Oneida county, N. Y. The fort was besieged early in the month of August, 1777, and the garrison were without a flag. So they made one according to the prescription of Congress, by cutting up sheets to form the white stripes, bits of scarlet cloth for the red stripes, and the blue ground for the stars was composed of portions of a cloth cloak belonging to Capt. Abraham Swarthout, of Dutchess county, N. Y., and the flag was unfurled August 3, 1777. Paul Jones, as commander of the Ranger," to which he was appointed, June 14, 1777, claimed that he was the first to display the stars and stripes on a naval vessel. It is probable that the flag was first unfurled in battle on the banks of the Brandywine, September 11, 1777, the first battle after its adoption. It first appeared over a foreign stronghold, June 28, 1778, when Captain Rathbone, of the American sloop of war "Providence," captured Fort Nassau, New Providence, Bahama Islands. John Singleton Copley, the American painter, claimed to be the first to display the flag in Great Britain. On the day when George Ill. acknowledged the independence of the United States (December 5, 1782), he painted the flag in the background of a portrait of Elkanah Watson. To Captain Mooers, of the whaling ship ,, Bed-ford," of Nantucket, is doubtless due the honor of first displaying the stars and stripes in a port of Great Britain. He arrived in the Downs with it flying at the fore, February 3, 1783. When Vermont and Kentucky were added to the Union of States, the flag was altered, the number of stripes and stars being increased from thirteen to fifteen. In 1818 a new flag, having thirteen stripes and a star for every state, twenty at that time, was devised by Capt. Samuel C. Reed, and this has remained the form of the United States flag.

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