The Mysterious Origins of the American Flag

The American flag has gone through many changes since it was adopted in 1777 by the Second Continental Congress. As the adoption of the Stars and Stripes is commemorated on Flag Day, find out more about Old Glory’s mysterious origins and its rise to iconic prominence.

When the American Revolution broke out in 1775, the colonists didn’t yet unite under a single flag. Instead, they fought mainly under unit or regimental flags, according to Marc Leepson, author of the book “Flag: An American Biography.” One flag of the time featured a picture of a coiled rattlesnake with the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me,” while another showed a pine tree with the words “An Appeal to Heaven.” “There really wasn’t anything that was stars and stripes, red, white and blue,” said Mike Buss, a flag expert with the American Legion veterans’ organization.

In June 1775, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, created a united colonial fighting force known as the Continental Army. Some historians claim that George Washington, the army’s commander in chief, ordered that a flag called the Continental Colors be raised the following New Year’s Day during a siege of British-occupied Boston. But David Martucci, past president of the North American Vexillological Association, the world’s largest group dedicated to the study of flags, believes Washington likely raised a British Union Jack instead. The Continental Colors, which contained 13 alternating red and white stripes with a Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner, was only used by the navy and perhaps at forts, according to Martucci. “It was sort of a compromise between the radicals who wanted to see a separate nation and the people who were more conciliatory and wanted to see some accommodation with the crown,” he said.

Either way, Washington realized soon after that it probably wasn’t a good idea to fly a flag resembling that of the enemy, Leepson said. The Second Continental Congress was busy drafting a constitution known as the Articles of Confederation, seeking an alliance with France and supplying the war effort. But on June 14, 1777, it took time from its schedule to pass a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” To this day, no one knows who designed the flag or why that particular color combination and pattern were chosen. Although legend holds that Betsy Ross made the first American flag in 1776 after being asked to do so by Washington, primary sources backing up that assertion are scarce.

Women making American flags at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, 1917. (Credit: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

The American flag would henceforth contain 15 stripes and 15 stars. More states kept joining, including Tennessee in 1796, Ohio in 1803, Louisiana in 1812, Indiana in 1816 and Mississippi in 1817. Nonetheless, the flag featured 15 stripes and 15 stars until 1818, when Congress passed a new act providing for 13 stripes in honor of the 13 original colonies and one star for each state.

It was almost unheard of for individuals to fly the U.S. flag until the Civil War broke out in 1861, at which time the Stars and Stripes suddenly became a popular symbol in the North, according to Leepson. “This is the beginning of what some people call the cult of the flag, the almost religious feeling that many Americans have for the red, white and blue,” he said.

In 1870 the Betsy Ross legend took off when her grandson held a press conference touting her possible role in sewing the first flag, and the earliest flag protection laws appeared not long after. Meanwhile, in 1885, Wisconsin teacher Bernard Cigrand originated the idea for a national flag day.

In 1912, President William Howard Taft signed an executive order that, for the first time, clarified what the flag should look like. Up until then, some flags were oddly proportioned, Leepson explained, or even had six- or eight-pointed stars. Four years later, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation officially establishing a nationwide observance of Flag Day on June 14, the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. And in 1949, President Harry Truman signed legislation designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day. Though Flag Day is not a federal holiday, the U.S. government encourages its citizens to display Old Glory outside of their homes and businesses.

Source:

History.com (A+E Networks)

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Wednesday to talk about why he believes President Donald Trump will nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death.

Lee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will consider and vote on the nominee, also weighed in on another Supreme Court contender: Judge Barbara Lagoa. Lee said he would not be comfortable confirming Lagoa without learning more about her history as it pertains to upholding the U.S. Constitution.

Watch the video below to hear the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

This week on the Glenn Beck Podcast, Glenn spoke with Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias about his new book, "One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger."

Matthew and Glenn agree that, while conservatives and liberals may disagree on a lot, we're not as far apart as some make it seem. If we truly want America to continue doing great things, we must spend less time fighting amongst ourselves.

Watch a clip from the full interview with Matthew Yglesias below:


Find the full podcast on Glenn's YouTube channel or on Blaze Media's podcast network.

Want to listen to more Glenn Beck podcasts?

Subscribe to Glenn Beck's channel on YouTube for FREE access to more of his masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, or subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

'A convenient boogeyman for misinformation artists': Why is the New York Times defending George Soros?

Image source: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" Tuesday, Glenn discussed the details of a recent New York Times article that claims left-wing billionaire financier George Soros "has become a convenient boogeyman for misinformation artists who have falsely claimed that he funds spontaneous Black Lives Matter protests as well as antifa, the decentralized and largely online, far-left activist network that opposes President Trump."

The Times article followed last week's bizarre Fox News segment in which former House Speaker Newt Gingrich appeared to be censored for criticizing Soros (read more here). The article also labeled Glenn a "conspiracy theorist" for his tweet supporting Gingrich.

Watch the video clip below for details:


Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

The former ambassador to Russia under the Obama Administration, Michael McFaul, came up with "7 Pillars of Color Revolution," a list of seven steps needed to incite the type of revolution used to upend Eastern European countries like Ukraine and Georgia in the past two decades. On his TV special this week, Glenn Beck broke down the seven steps and showed how they're happening right now in America.

Here are McFaul's seven steps:

1. Semi-autocratic regime (not fully autocratic) – provides opportunity to call incumbent leader "fascist"

2. Appearance of unpopular president or incumbent leader

3. United and organized opposition – Antifa, BLM

4. Effective system to convince the public (well before the election) of voter fraud

5. Compliant media to push voter fraud narrative

6. Political opposition organization able to mobilize "thousands to millions in the streets"

7. Division among military and police


Glenn explained each "pillar," offering examples and evidence of how the Obama administration laid out the plan for an Eastern European style revolution in order to completely upend the American system.

Last month, McFaul made a obvious attempt to downplay his "color revolutions" plan with the following tweet:

Two weeks later, he appeared to celebrate step seven of his plan in this now-deleted tweet:



As Glenn explains in this clip, the Obama administration's "7 Pillars of Color Revolution" are all playing out – just weeks before President Donald Trump takes on Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the November election.

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:


Watch the full special "CIVIL WAR: The Way America Could End in 2020" here.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multiplatform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Start your free trial and get $20 off a one-year subscription with code BANTHIS.