American Flag

American Flag



Description, Information and Facts about the American Flag
  • As the above picture of the American Flag indicates the overall background is 13 equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white stripes and in the upper hoist-side corner (canton) there is a blue rectangle bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars
  • The 50 stars on the American Flag represent the 50 states of America
  • The number of stripes on the American flag represent the 13 original colonies which are known as Old Glory
  • The red stripes are at the top and bottom of American Flags
  • The stars are arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of stars - Six stars are displayed on the top and bottom rows of American Flags

  • The rows of six stars alternate with rows of five stars on American Flags
  • According to Ancient and Heraldic traditions much symbolism is associated with colors. The colors on the American flag represent the following:
    • White - peace and honesty
    • Red - hardiness, bravery, strength & valour
    • Blue - vigilance, truth and loyalty, perseverance & justice
  • The basic style shown in the picture of the American flag is described as Canton
  • All Flag pictures depict flags flying, from the viewer's point of view, from left to right
  • The shape and flag ratio of the American flag is described as 1:2 ( length twice the height )
  • The upper left quarter of the flag is called the Canton and pictures the stars
  • The Meaning of the American Flag - The American flag now represents the 50 states of America and the 13 original colonies. The dates when the States were admitted are detailed further down this page

Canton - Flag Terminology

Flag Terminology - Did you Know ?
  • The design and description uses specific flag terminology based on Heraldic principles
  • Animal blazons should always appear with the heads facing the flag - staff side
  • The Study of the Flags is called Vexillology
  • Your interest in flags makes you a Vexillologist!
  • Increase your knowledge - Play the Flag Quiz



IInformation and Facts about the History of the American flag

  • The history on the American flag starts on January 1, 1776 American forces were placed under George Washington's control under the 'Grand Union' flag . It had 13 alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner (the canton)
  • 4th July 1776 - The Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. The American flag adopted was the 'Grand Union Flag' and continued to display the Union Jack in the Canton together with red and white stripes
  • The picture above shows some of the changes reflecting the rich history of the American Flag
  • George Washington approved of Heraldry and his British lineage dated back to  Sir Walter de Washington of Washington in Durham County, England and Bewell in Northumberland County, England and this strongly influenced the design of the American flag
  • George Washington stated the following in relation to heraldry:
    "It is far from my design to intimate an opinion, that Heraldry, Coat-Armor, etc. might not be rendered conducive to public and private use with us; or that they can have any tendency unfriendly to the purest spirit of Republicanism. On the contrary, a different conclusion is deducible from the practice of Congress, and the states; all of which have established some kind of Armorial Devices, to authenticate their official instruments" - George Washington (1732-1799)
  • The Coat of Arms of George Washington is described as 'Argent, two bars beneath three mullets gules' and is pictured below so that its influence on the design of the American flag may be assessed. These arms appear on the flag of the District of Columbia
    • Argent - The heraldic term for silver, sometimes shown as white
    • Mullet - A star, usually five pointed whose rays are straight
    • Gules - The heraldic term for red

  • June 14, 1777 - the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution establishing a new design and declared that the American flag should have thirteen white stars in a blue background and thirteen alternate red and white stripes:
    "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."
  • This edict did not, however, define HOW the stars should be displayed on the American flag. Or how many points each star should have
  • The earliest American flags therefore had a variety of designs depicting 5 or 6 pointed stars and with stars arranged in rows or as a circle
  • Elizabeth Griscom Ross is recognized for sewing the first American flag. Betsy Ross was a seamstress who often mended the clothes of George Washington. The 'Betsy Ross Flag' depicts the stars in a circle
  • The first Stars and Stripes flag used by the Navy, displayed the 13 stars in alternating rows of three and two and in 1780 Francis Hopkinson  wrote a letter to the Board of Admiralty in 1780 saying that he was the one who had designed the first flag (this has not been verified)
  • George Washington explained the symbolism of the colors of the 'Union Flag' as follows:
    "We take the stars from Heaven, the red from out mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing liberty." George Washington (1732-1799)
  • The following image represents a graphical representation of some the historical changes to the American Flag - The Grand Union Flag, the 'Betsy Ross Flag' and the first Stars and Stripes flag used by the American navy :

  • Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the American flag which allowed for additional stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state and how the events of history changed the American flag
  • In 1795 two more American states, Vermont and Kentucky were admitted, and the flag thus increased the number of stars and stripes from 13 to 15
  • In 1818 five more American states were to be added and Congress reduced the fifteen stripes on the flag to thirteen, thus the stripes of the American flag would, from that time forward, just reflect the first original 13 states. The stars would increase in number according to additional American states admitted to the Union
  • In 1912 an Executive Order of President Taft established proportions of the American flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward pointing on the flag
  • In January 1959 an Executive Order of President Eisenhower provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically on the American Flag
  • In August 1959 an Executive Order of President Eisenhower provided for another change in the Stars and Stripes on the American Flag - the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically
  • The information and facts regarding the history of the American flag reflect the many historical changes between January 1, 1776 and August 21,1959
Flag Terminology - Did you Know ?
  • The design and description uses specific flag terminology based on Heraldic principles
  • Animal blazons should always appear with the heads facing the flag - staff side
  • The Study of the Flags is called Vexillology
  • Your interest in flags makes you a Vexillologist!
  • Increase your knowledge - Play the Flag Quiz

Flag Terminology

Flag History & Evolution:
  • The idea of flying a flag grew from the requirements of ancient warfare and the battlefield
  • Shields were painted with emblems to identify Friend or Foe
  • Warriors needed to know where their leaders were - the custom of carrying a pole was adopted
  • An emblem such as a shield, animal or religious device was attached to the pole for identification
  • The emblems were also used for identity and to cover suits of armour - Coats of Arms  were born
  • These emblems were the forerunners of modern flags
  • The Romans were the first to use a cloth flag - they were square and fastened to cross bars at the end of spears - the idea of fastening a flag to the side of a pole soon followed
  • The strict rules of Heraldry are still used when designing an emblem and creating a modern flag
  • Heraldry had a significant impact on the design of the American Flag

National Flags of the World Map


Location: North America, bordering
both the North Atlantic Ocean
and the North Pacific Ocean,
between Canada and

  • Land Size of America : 9,631,418 sq km
  • Climate / Weather of America : mostly temperate, but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in the great plains west of the Mississippi River, and arid in the Great Basin of the southwest; low winter temperatures in the northwest are ameliorated occasionally in January and February by warm chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains
  • Population of America : 293,500,000
  • Former Name(s) : N/A
  • Capital City of America : Washington, DC
  • American GDP: $10.98 trillion (2003 est.)
  • Main Industries :  petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining
  • American Currency: US dollar (USD)
  • Agricultural products : wheat, corn, other grains, fruits, vegetables, cotton; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products, forest products, fish
  • Main Colors of American Flag : Red, white and blue
  • Commonly mis-typed as Amercan
Concise History of America & its Flag
  • Various changes have been made to the size, shape, design and arrangement of the American flag  between 1st January 1776 and August 21 1960
  • The dates of admission of states is detailed as follows:
    • The first thirteen states, depicted as stars, were Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island
    • 1795 two more states, Vermont and Kentucky, were added to the flag
    • 1818 five more states were added which were Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, and Mississippi
    • 1819 - Illinois was added
    • 1820 - Alabama and Maine
    • 1822 - Missouri
    • 1836 - Arkansas
    • 1837 - Michigan
    • 1845 - Florida was added giving the American flag 27 stars
    • 1846 - Texas
    • 1847 - Iowa
    • 1848 - Wisconsin
    • 1851 - California
    • 1858 - Minnesota
    • 1859 - Oregon
    • 1861 - Kansas was admitted totalling 34 stars on the American Flag
    • 1863 - West Virginia
    • 1865 - Nevada
    • 1867 - Nebraska was admitted
    • 1877 - Colorado
    • 1890 - North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, and Idaho
    • 1891 - Wyoming
    • 1896 - Utah
    • 1908 - Oklahoma
    • 1912 - Arizona and New Mexico
    • 1912 - Alaska
    • 1960 - Hawaii, the last state was added, giving the American flag 50 stars
"Around the World in 80 minutes!"
  • A combination of information regarding a Nation's flag, History, Geography and Current Events provides an accurate snapshot of the evolution of each country
  • In just a short period of time this concise information with specific facts will improve your overall understanding of the great countries of the World
  • A useful Educational Resource accessed from the Index
  • You can go "Around the World in 80 minutes!"
The American Flag and Nation

We hope that the presentation of facts and information regarding the American Flag and Country has provided a useful educational resource. To improve your knowledge of Flags and Vexillology still further check out the Flag and Nations Index and test your knowledge with our interactive, multi-choice, picture-based Flag Trivia Quiz Game!


American Flag

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