The American Flag. On the 13th of Jane, 1877, the following resolution was adopted by the American Congress: " That the flag of the thirteen United States bo thirteen stripes, alternately red and white ; that the Union be thirteen white stars in a blue field, representing a new constellation." There is a striking coincidence between the design of our flag and the arms of General Washington, which consisted of three stars upon the upper portion of three bars, running across the escutcheon. It is thought by some that the flag was derived from this heraldic design. History informs us that several flags were used by the Yankees before the present national one was adopted.
In March, 1775, a minor flag with a red field, was hoisted in New York, bearing the inscription on one side of "George Rex and the Liberties of America," and upon the reverse, " No Popery." General Israel Putnam raised, on Prospect Hill, July 18th, 1775, a minor flag bearing on one side the motto of the Commonwealth, " Qui transtulit sustinet;" on the other, "An Appeal to Heaven," an appeal well taken and amply sustained.
In October, 1775, the floating batteries of Boston bore a flag with the latter motto, and a pine tree upon a white field, bearing the Massachusetts emblem. Some of the colonies used in 1775, a flag with a rattlesnake coiled, as if about to strike, and the motto, " Don't tread on me."
On the 2d of January, 1776, the grand Union flag of the Stars and Stripes was raised on the heights near Boston, and it is said that some of the regulars made the grand mistake of supposing it was a token of submission to the king, whose speech had just been sent to the Americans. The "British Register" of 1779 says: " They (the rebels) burnt the king's speech, and changed their colors from a plain red ground to a flag with thirteen stripes, as a symbol of the number and union of the colonies." A letter from Boston, published in the " Pennsylvania Gazette" in 1776, says: " The Union flag was raised on the 2d, in compliment to the United Colonies."
The various flags we have mentioned - the Pine Tree, Rattlesnake and the Stripes - were used according to the taste of the patriots, until July, 1777, when the Stars and Stripes were established by law. At first a stripe was added for each new state, but the flag became too large, and Congress, foreseeing, possibly, the spirit of annexation, reduced the stripes to the original thirteen, and now the stars are made to correspond in number with the States.
Watson, in his " Men and Times of the Revolution," gays: "Soon after my arrival in England, having won at the insurance office one hundred guineas on the event of Lord Howe's relieving Gibraltar, and dining the same day with Copley, the distinguished painter, who was a Bostonian by birth, I determined to devote the sum to a splendid portrait of myself. The painting was finished in a most admirable style, except the background, which Copley and myself designed to represent a ship bearing to America the intelligence of the acknowledgment of independence, with a sun just rising upon the stripes of the Union, streaming from her gaff. All was complete, save the flag, which Copley did not esteem prudent to hoist under present circumstances, as his gallery is a constant resort of the royal family and the nobility. dined with the artist on the glorious fifth of December, 1782, after listening with him to the speech of the king, formally receiving and recognizing the United States of America into the rank of nations. Previous to dining and immediately after our return from the House of Lords, he invited me into his studio, and there, with a bold hand, a master's touch, and, I believe, an American heart, attached to the ship the stars and stripes. This was, I imagine, the first American flag in old England."
The American flag is one of the most beautiful that floats upon any land or sea. Its proportions are perfect when it is properly made - one half as broad as it is long. The first stripe at the top is red, the next white, and these colors alternate, making the last stripe red. The blue field for the stars is the width and square of the first seven stripes, viz.: four red and three white. The colors of. the American flag are in beautiful relief, and it is altogether a beautiful national emblem. Long may it wave untarnished. He who would erase one stripe or dim one star upon it, " acts a traitor's part, and deserves a traitor's doom."