15.6.09

Flying Monday June 15, 2009.


Flag Day USA was June 14, yesterday, so one day late I will fly the first United States flag sometimes called the “Betsy Ross.

Although it appears that Flag Day is not well acknowledged in the USA and does not result in widespread national flag flying, it is the anniversary of The Flag Act of 1777 passed by the Second Continental Congress on that day June 14, 1777, in response to a petition made by an American Indian nation on June 3 for "an American Flag."

The Act reads in its entirety: "Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."

The reference to Betsy Ross is that it is alleged, by myth or otherwise, that the original flag was sewn by Betsy, an upholsterer in Philadelphia.

The Birth of Old Glory, by Edward Percy Moran, depicting the presentation by Betsy Ross of the first American flag to George Washington


Old Glory, a common nickname for the flag of the United States.

The original Old Glory was made and presented to a young Captain Driver by his mother and some young ladies of his native Salem, Massachusetts.

The year is uncertain, but it was probably sometime in the 1820s. It is a large flag, measuring 10 feet by 17 feet, heavily constructed and designed to be flown from a ship's mast. It originally had 24 stars and, symbolic of its nautical purpose, included a small anchor sewn in the corner of its blue canton.

The captain was very pleased with his gift, and kept it with him always. By most accounts, he first hailed the flag as "Old Glory," when he left harbour for a trip around the world in 1831-1832, as commander of the whaling vessel Charles Doggett. Old Glory served as the ship's official flag throughout the voyage.

Driver retired from the sea in 1837 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. He flew his beloved flag on all patriotic occasions, using a rope suspended across the street, and Old Glory became well known to the citizenry. By 1861, it was modified to show 34 stars (the number of states then in the Union).

When the Civil War broke out and Tennessee seceded from the union in 1861, Driver knew or feared that the rebel government would attempt to destroy the locally famous Old Glory. He had the flag sewn inside a comforter to conceal it. Accounts differ as to whether and how hard the Confederate authorities searched for the flag, but in any event it survived. When Union forces retook Nashville the following year, Driver was able to bring out his flag and hoist it from the state capitol spire, the last time it flew from a flagpole. These dramatic events were reported by many newspapers, and Old Glory became nationally famous.