In 1777 during the American War for Independence, the Second Continental Congress (Arthur Middleton was a member) passed a resolution determining the appearance of the official flag of the United States of America. Previously, the thirteen red and white alternating stripes had been anchored by a Union Jack – the flag of the United Kingdom and King George III. The fledgling government, at that time a rebellious and unlawful gathering, was making decisions for many aspects of the new nation, including adopting a Flag Resolution on June 14, 1777. It stated:
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.
The Founders believed the new nation they were building to be worthy of a celestial label like “constellation.” To them, the United States and its new government were physical examples of the Enlightenment ideals they espoused, including reason, religious tolerance, scientific thought, and the evidence of the senses. It is a paradox then, that the liberty and sovereignty the Founders so passionately strove for required that they use oppressive and destructive measures like land colonization, the forcing of indigenous tribes from their homes, and the enslavement of Africans, Native Americans, and (later) people of African descent born on American soil. Still, one of the icons to emerge from the struggle – a symbol that is meant to represent all Americans in our diversity and personal liberty – is the official American Flag.
In August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress – following President Woodrow Wilson’s proclamation 33 years earlier in 1916 – though it is still not an official federal holiday. This June 14, we celebrate this American icon, and hope that ALL Americans can feel represented under its banner. For more information about Flag Etiquette, check out the episode of Plugged In To History below! Nicole Thompson, a US Navy Veteran, explains current best practices for displaying and caring for the American Flag:
Middleton Place will be holding special educational programs on Saturday, June 11, 10:00 am-3:00 pm. Learn more here