Posted in History on Tuesday, 15 March 2011
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This edited article about the union flag originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 920 published on 8 September 1979.
In 1775, the American Colonies, seething with discontent, rebelled against British rule. Anxious to make it plain that their quarrel was not with the sovereign, King George III, but with the British Government of the time, the newly-formed American Congress sought a flag which would express this divided loyalty.
The chief commander of the American armed forces, General George Washington, also wanted a single flag to replace the various state flags of his army. The flag they chose consisted of seven horizontal red stripes and six horizontal white stripes to represent the united cause of the original 13 states seceding from British rule, with, superimposed on it, the Union Flag, to represent their loyalty to King George III. This flag was known as the Grand Union flag. It is not known exactly when this flag was adopted or authorised, but on 3rd December, 1775, the Grand Union flag was hoisted on the Alfred, the flagship of the Congress Navy, which was lying in the Delaware River.
During the first year of their historic struggle against the British, the American navy and army used this flag to symbolise the united cause of the 13 states. When all hope of reconcilliation with Britain had gone, the Union Flag was replaced by a blue canton with 13 stars and so the national flag of the United States of America, the “Stars and Stripes” was born.
In 1818 it was decreed that a star be added for every new state admitted to the Union. There are now 50 stars on the blue canton.
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