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American History Stories, Volume II by  Mara L. Pratt


 

 

THE HISTORY OF OUR FLAG

THE old British flag which had once been so dear to the colonists, and which they now so hated, was pulled down from every place, and the new American flag hoisted in its place. For the colonists had long ago learned that no peace with England was possible. They had once offered a petition to the king, in which they had asked that peace might be restored on certain conditions. This petition, the king would not even hear read; and so the colonists had long known that their only hope lay in face-to-face battle with the English troops.

And now that they had declared their independence of England, surely they would no longer bear an English flag.


[Illustration]

[78] At the beginning of the war, there had been in use a variety of flags. One of the very first was the "Pine Tree" flag. This was used first in the Massachusetts colony. It had a white ground, a tree in the middle, and the motto, "Appeal to Heaven." Next, a flag was made having upon it thirteen stripes of red and white to represent the thirteen colonies. It had, however, the British "Union-Jack," as it was called, in the corner. But when the Declaration of Independence came, then, said the colonists, we must have a truly American flag; for now we are the American nation.


[Illustration]

Congress voted, June 17, 1777, "that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, and the Union be thirteen white stars in the blue field."

The first truly American flag was hoisted by Paul Jones over an American ship-of-war. This flag was made by Philadelphia women, and I am sure they must have been proud to have done their part, in the raising of the first American flag.


[Illustration]

It was intended that, as time went on and the country grew, a new stripe should be added for each new State; but later, when the [79] growth of the country caused the flag to become too wide, it was decided to return to the thirteen original stripes, and let a new star be added for each new State, And thus it is that our flag to-day shows thirteen stripes of red and white, while in its blue field, where the "Union Jack" used to stand, are—what little boy or girl can tell me how many stars there are on our flag to-day?


[Illustration]


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