American Flags through the Years

Published on
January 21, 2022 at 12:00:45 PM PST January 21, 2022 at 12:00:45 PM PSTst, January 21, 2022 at 12:00:45 PM PST

How Many Versions of the American Flag Are There?


The current version of the Stars and Stripes is not as old as one may think — the 50th star was added in 1960. The design has been stable ever since, but the story about American flags through the years is quite an interesting one.


Let’s take a closer look at how many versions of the American flag there have been and what the chances are of updating the latest Old Glory.


American Flags Through the Years


The US flag has gone through changes more or less every time a new state would join the union, which was happening quite frequently at the beginning. Consequently, there have been 27 versions of the American flag so far. The latest change occurred when Hawaii joined the Union in 1960.


However, the original outline with the blue Union and thirteen alternating stripes (7 red, 6 white) representing thirteen colonies has not varied over the centuries.


The Very First US American Flag


The original American flag was officially recognized by Congress in 1777. The red, blue, and white have remained to this day but the thirteen stars, representing thirteen states, have multiplied more than once.


The very first flags were carried in battles back on our colonial days. The Americans at Fort Stanwix, now known as Rome New York raised their banners on August 3rd, 1777 to signify victory after successfully driving off British forces during battle three days later - this took place near Oriskany Falls which would become one of its most important locations ever since then!


While we are used to seeing the stars in straight lines, the so-called  Betsy Ross flag had 13 stars forming a circle. This version is called so because it is believed that Betsy Ross was the seamstress, while the  design was supposedly created by New Jersey Congressman Francis Hopkinson. Yet, no one can vouch for this with absolute certainty.


Have there been American flags before this version? Certainly, but those national flags differed in the number of stripes and even mottos. There was the Grand Union Flag, “Don’t Tread on Me” coiled-rattlesnake flag, “Liberty or Death” flag, for instance.


However, the Betsy Ross flag is usually defined as the first American flag since it is the first one to have been approved by Congress.


American Flag History & Evolution


The American Flag has been through many alterations and developments. When the colonists first gathered, they created their own version of a national banner which had 13 stripes to represent each colony in America's Union at that time-the Grand Union Flag with its blue corner stoned displaying crosses representing England (St George) Scotland (St Andrew).


How Often Did the US Flag Change?


Sometimes, decades would pass between the changes in the number of 5-pointed white stars. In the beginning, the flag of the United States was altered every couple of years, if not yearly.


The first alteration came 18 years after the original flag when Vermont joined the Union. Since then, the new states were quick to join. Just a year later, the Kentucky star was added. The American flag with twenty stars (as well as twenty-one stars, thirty-two stars, and so on) lasted only for one year, for example.


The US entered the 20th century with forty-five stars on its flag when Utah renounced polygamy in it is constitution and joined the Union.


Until 1959, the US was known as the country with 48 states. However, Alaska came into play in 1959, and with Hawaii joining the following year, the Old Glory was complete at last.


The Arrangement of the Stars


Without a doubt, we are very much used to the perfect symmetry of fifty stars on the blue surface. Therefore, it may be a bit hard to imagine that the arrangement of the stars changed nearly every time new stars were added. True, only the first version had a ring arrangement, but some other US flags are  pretty memorable too.


For example, there is the US flag with 15 stars (active in 1795-1818). The stars were more or less a bit dispersed, though still symmetrical. The 20-star flag reminds us of the current one, with four rows and five stars in each one. However, the 21-star US flag had a line with five stars at the top, four stars below, and 12 stars in two rows at the bottom.


Another US flag version that is very prominent is the one with 37 seven stars. Namely, the two stars were clearly separated from the rest.


Conclusion: American Flag History


Are we looking forward to new versions of the United States flag? At the moment, there are no such indications for the year to come, but who knows?