The United States of America (USA) is a state located in North America with a territory of 9.5 million square kilometers and a population of 330 million people. It is a highly developed country with the strongest economy and the most powerful armed forces in the world. The U.S. has the greatest political, military, economic and cultural influence on the entire planet, although its history is less than 250 years old.
This is what the modern U.S. flag looks like:
History of the flag
The history of the country begins in the mid-70s of the eighteenth century. By this time, Britain had thirteen colonies on the territory of modern America. The flag of British America at that time was a red cloth with a cross in the upper left corner (1700-1755) or the British Union Jack (1755-1775).
On July 4, 1976, these colonies declared their independence and created the state of the “United States of America.” A variant of the Continental Flag, the maritime banner which was first hoisted on the ship “Alfred” on December 2, 1775, was taken as the symbol of the country.
The history of the origin of this type of flag probably has to do with the flag of the British East India Company, which used it on its ships and vessels. At different times the number of stripes on it decreased, then increased, and the initial one became either white or red. In 1775 on the Ensign BOIC, there were thirteen stripes.
Another historical symbol of the United States in 1775 was the Gadsden flag (named after politician Christopher Gadsden), which was a yellow cloth with a rattlesnake coiled up to strike. Below the snake is the inscription “Don’t step on me.
Along with this, during the American Revolution, warships flew a banner with an image of a lone pine tree on a white background and the inscription “Appeal to Heaven.
Another option of possible symbols was a view of the Betsy Ross flag with red and white stripes and thirteen stars in a circle.
And yet in June 1777 the Continental Congress approved the final version – thirteen red and white alternating horizontal stripes equal in width and the same number of stars on a blue field. The image of stars was presented as a new constellation, and the stripes symbolized the united states.
The design of the flag at the time was explained by official Washington as follows: “The stars we took from heaven, the red is the color of our homeland, the white stripes that separate it signify that we have separated from it. The white stripes will go down in history as a symbol of freedom.”
In Europe, the American flag was first seen in the Dutch port of Texel, where a frigate captured from the British was moored for repairs. The flag was drawn from memory by the captain of the ship and in this form it has remained in history as the flag of the “Serapis” (the name of the frigate). The general appearance was similar, but the colors of the stripes were different from the original.
After the first 13 states, in 1795, two more states, Vermont and Kentucky, merged with the United States, and the symbol of the country changed both in the number of stars and the number of stripes – there were fifteen on the new version.
The design of the symbol with fifteen stripes was used only in the 15-state flag. For all subsequent additions the number of stripes remained thirteen.
From 1818 to 1822 several more states merged with America and their number reached twenty-four. Simultaneously with the process of enlargement of the state, the general appearance of the flag also changed according to the number of states that joined. The total number became:
- Twenty in 1818 (Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi);
- Twenty-one in 1819. (Illinois);
- Twenty-three in 1820. (Alabama, Maine);
- twenty-four in 1822. (Missouri).
В период с 1836-го по 1990-й год периодически прибавлялось по одному штату, а флаг соответственно этому преображался:
- In the thirties, Arkansas, Michigan;
- In the forties, Florida, Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin;
- Fifties – California, Minnesota, Oregon;
- In the sixties and seventies, Kansas, West Virginia, Nevada, Nebraska, Colorado.
In just one hundred years of the “new constellation,” the state has tripled in number of states joined together. That is, compared to the time of its creation, the country, which consisted of thirteen states, had thirty-eight by 1877.
The nineteenth century ended with the incorporation of seven more states:
- North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho – 1890;
- Wyoming – 1891;
- Utah – 1896.
By 1960, the United States had added five more states: Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii.
The latest version of the flag has been in existence for sixty years.
The U.S. flag consists of thirteen horizontal, evenly spaced, alternating red and white stripes. The sequence of stripes begins with red and ends with the same color. In the upper left part of the cloth (at the staff) there is a rectangular blue figure with fifty five-pointed stars of white on it. The stars are equal to the number of states that make up the state. The stars are arranged in nine rows: five by six stars and four by five.
The sides of the flag have a 1 to 1.9 relation to each other. The width of each stripe is equal to 1/13 of the total width of the flag. The dimensions of the rectangle with the stars are equal:
- the length is two-fifths the length of the flag;
- width – 7/13, that is, seven stripes.
The following dimensions are used for an even distribution of stars on the blue field:
- Each horizontal row of stars is spaced 1/10 of the field width, and each vertical column is spaced 1/12 of the field length.
- The diameter of the star corresponds to 4/5 of the width of one lane.
The specification gives the following values:
- Flag width: A = 1.0
- Flag length: B = 1.9
- Star area width: C = 0.5385 (A × 7/13, takes seven stripes)
- Length of the star area: D = 0.76 (B × 2/5, two fifths of the flag length)
- E = F = 0.0538 (C/10, one-tenth of the width of the star area)
- G = H = 0.0633 (D/12, one-twelfth of the length of the star area)
- Star diameter: K = 0.0616 (L x 4/5)
- Band width: L = 0.0769 (A/13, one thirteenth of the flag width)
There are only three colors used on the flag: white, red, and navy blue.
Meaning of colors and flag symbol
The symbols and colors used on the U.S. flag have their own interpretations and explanations:
- Thirteen stripes of red and white symbolize the 13 former British colonies that formed the new independent state. (Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island);
- The kryzh blue color symbolizes the Union;
- The number of stars in the blue field corresponds to the number of states (the current number is 50);
- Red represents endurance and valor; dark blue, diligence, justice, vigilance; white, innocence and purity.
Among the existing symbols of state and government institutions are flags:
- President and the Executive Office of the President, as well as the Vice President;
- State Department, the Secretary of State and his deputy, and U.S. Ambassadors;
- Department of the Treasury;
- National Security Agencies;
- Secretary of Defense;
- Attorney General;
- Central Intelligence Agency, etc.
The most complete version of the flags of state, federal and municipal structures of America, their subdivisions, territorial formations (states), associated and dependent territories is available here.
The arrangement of stars on the variants of American flags before 1934 was not regulated. That is why there are different modifications of symbols, where the stars are arranged in a circle, arc, star-shaped, etc.
Interesting facts about the flag
The U.S.-dependent country of Puerto Rico, where the supreme power belongs to the U.S. Congress, but a system of self-government, may turn out to be America’s 51st state. Puerto Rico has already held two referendums on the issue: in 2012 and 2017. Another one is scheduled for November 2020. Despite the lack of a final status for the country, a draft version of the 51-star flag has been prepared.
America has a special cult of the flag. Unlike other countries, the U.S. has a Flag Code, which regulates the rules of treatment and use. For example,
- If the edges of the flag are worn out, it is replaced with a new one, and the old one is usually burned;
- The flag, displayed at night, must be illuminated;
- the flag can be hung upside down at the distress signal;
- The recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools and kindergartens with teachers and educators;
- The flag must never touch the ground, etc.
There is a legend that if the flag touched the ground, it must be destroyed.
At various times, as a result of certain historical and military events, the U.S. flag has earned names (nicknames) such as “The Star Spangled Banner” or “Old Glory.
“The Star Spangled Banner” – In 1814, during the battle for Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the defenders managed to defend it and the poet Francis Scott Key, encouraged by this victory, wrote a poem in which he praised the Star Spangled Banner. The poem was later set to music and became America’s national anthem in 1931.
“Old Glory” – The National Museum of American History (Washington, D.C.) houses the 34-star model flag that received this designation.
General information about the United States
|Official language||American English (de-facto)|
|Territory||9 519 431 km²|
|Population||328 915 700 people|
|Currency||US dollar (USD, code 840)|