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Design Icon: The American Flag

by Maxwell Tielman

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Design: American Flag

Designer: Unknown

Date: ca. 1777

Country of Origin: United States (of course!)

Background: Although Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross is often cited as the legendary craftsperson behind the first American flag, its actual roots are much harder to pin down. Drawing inspiration from a number of sources, most notably the British East India Company’s nautical flags, the American Flag as we know it today was first officially documented during the second Continental Congress in 1777. The Congress’ Flag Resolution, meant to establish the guidelines for the American flag’s design, stated that the flag would contain thirteen stripes (meant to represent the original thirteen colonies freed from British rule) and a “new constellation” of thirteen stars on a blue ground, meant to represent the new union of states. Over the course of United States history, the flag has added new stars each time new territories were added to the union. The most recent 50-star flag was ordered by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1959 after the union’s addition of Hawaii.

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