USA Flag

USA Flag



Flag of the United States of America - Description of the USA Flag
  • As the above picture of the USA 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 represent the 50 states of the USA -
  • The 13 stripes on the USA flag represent the 13 original colonies (known as Old Glory)
  • The red stripes are situated at the top and bottom of the USA Flag
  • The stars on the USA flag are arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of stars - six stars are displayed on the top and bottom rows - the rows of six stars alternate with rows of five stars

  • According to Ancient and Heraldic traditions much symbolism is associated with colors. The colors on the USA 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 USA 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 USA 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 USA Flag - The USA flag represents the 50 states of USA and the 13 original colonies
  • The History of the United States of America and the dates when the States were admitted are detailed further below

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

The History of the USA flag is as follows:

  • 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 on the USA flag and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner (the canton)
  • 4th July 1776 - The Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. The USA flag adopted was the 'Grand Union Flag' and continued to display the Union Jack in the Canton together with red and white stripes
  • 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 influened the design of the USA flag
  • Of heraldry, George Washington stated as follows:
    "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. 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 USA Second Continental Congress passed a resolution establishing a new design and declared that the 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 define HOW the stars should be displayed on the flag of the USA. Or how many points each star should have depicted on the Flags
  • The earliest United States 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.
  • 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 USA 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 some of the early designs of the USA Flag

  • Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the USA flag which allowed for additional stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state
  • In 1795 two more 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 states were to be added and Congress reduced the fifteen stripes to thirteen, thus the stripes of the flag would, from that time forward, just reflect the first original 13 states. The stars on all new USA Flags would increase in number according to additional states admitted to the Union
  • In 1912 an Executive Order of US President Taft established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward
  • 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
  • In August 1959 an Executive Order of US President Eisenhower provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically

National Flags of the World Map

USA Flag

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


USA Flag

  • Land Size of USA : 9,631,418 sq km
  • Climate / Weather of USA : 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 USA : 293,500,000
  • Former Name(s) : N/A
  • Capital City of USA : Washington, DC
  • GDP of USA : $10.98 trillion (2003 est.)
  • Main Industries :  petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining
  • Currency of USA : US dollar (USD)
  • Agricultural products : wheat, corn, other grains, fruits, vegetables, cotton; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products, forest products, fish
  • Main Colors of USA Flag : Red, white and blue
Concise History of the USA & its Flag
  • Various changes have been made to the size, shape, design and arrangement of the US flag  between 1st January 1776 and August 21 1960
  • The dates of admission of states are detailed as follows:
    • The first thirteen states, were Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island
    • In 1795   Vermont and Kentucky, were added to the USA flag
    • In 1818   Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, and Mississippi
    • In 1819   Illinois was added
    • In 1820   Alabama and Maine were included on the USA flag
    • In 1822   Missouri became a state
    • In 1836   Arkansas
    • In 1837   Michigan
    • In 1845   Florida was added giving the USA flag 27 stars
    • In 1846   Texas
    • In 1847    Iowa
    • In 1848    Wisconsin
    • In 1850    California
    • In 1858    Minnesota
    • In 1859    Oregon
    • In 1861    Kansas
    • In 1863    West Virginia
    • In 1865    Nevada was added totalling 36 stars on the USA flag
    • In 1867    Nebraska was admitted
    • In 1877    Colorado
    • In 1890    North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, and Idaho
    • In 1891    Wyoming
    • In 1896    Utah
    • In 1908    Oklahoma
    • In 1912    Arizona and New Mexico
    • In 1959    Alaska the 49th state on 3 Jan. 1959 (Alaska became a territory in 1912)
    • In 1959    Hawaii became the 50th state on 21 Aug. 1959. Hawaii the last state was added giving the USA flag 50 stars

We would like to extend our grateful thanks to Brant Pollard for his help with this USA Flags section.

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 new flag

USA Flag

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