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Celebrating Flag Day: Flag Progression

Martha Stewart Living, June 2004

The American flag has had many faces in its long history. Here are some of its prominent incarnations.

Continental Colours
(Top left)
This 1776 flag reflects the sentiments of our forefathers: The British Union Jack acknowledged the colonies' origins; the stripes, their emerging independence.

Stars and Stripes
(Top right)
The Flag Resolution of 1777 specified that there should be one star for each state but did not specify configuration. Each flagmaker arranged the stars to his or her liking.

Star-Spangled Banner
(Bottom left)
Two stars and stripes were added in 1795 in recognition of Vermont and Kentucky. This version inspired the Francis Scott Key poem that became our national anthem.

Grand Old Flag
(Bottom right)
In 1912, President William Taft approved the first detailed standards for flag proportions. This flag, with 48 stars, was official until 1959 -- the longest-flying version.

Return to Celebrating Flag Day.