The first U.S. flag was raised by George Washington on January 2, 1776 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That flag had 13 red and white stripes, and a blue canton (the right corner) with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew. This flag was known as the Grand Union flag. Before that time, each colony had its own flag.
On June 14, 1777, Congress decreed that: "The Flag of the United States be 13 stripes alternate red and white, that the Union be 13 stars white in a blue field representing a new constellation." The States took slightly longer for their individual governning bodies to ratify the new Constituation, from Delaware(1) in 1787 to Rhode Island(13) in 1790.
Vermont(14) in 1791 and Kentucky(15) in 1792. This flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes, was adopted by a Congressional act of 1794. The flag became effective May 1, 1795.
That precedent was followed until 1818 Congress reinstated the original 13 stripes, representing the first colonies and decided to add a star for each new state. The stars are added on July 4th, following the granting of statehood. A flag with 50 stripes would be very strange.
Mississippi(20) December 10, 1818 - 20 Stars July 4, 1819
By 1861, the nation had 34 states. Even after the South seceded from the Union, President Lincoln would not allow any stars to be removed from the flag.
|Confederate States of America 1861 - 1865|
|South Carolina||Dec 20, 1860||
Confederate Battle Flag
Confederate Flags and History
|Mississippi||Jan 9, 1861|
|Florida||Jan 10, 1861||Alabama||Jan 11, 1861|
|Georgia||Jan 19, 1861||Louisania||Jan 26, 1861|
|Texas||Feb 1, 1861||Virginia||Apr 17, 1861|
|Arkansas||May 6, 1861||Tennessee||May 6, 1861|
|North Carolina||May 20, 1861|
North Dakota(39) and South Dakota(40) admitted November 2, 1889. President Benjamin Harrison went to great lengths to obscure the order in which the statehood proclamations were signed, the exact order in which the two states entered is unknown. However, because of alphabetical position, North Dakota is often considered the 39th state.
Montana(41) admitted November 8, 1889
Washington(42) admitted November 11, 1889
admitted July 4, 1890. Boise's Idaho Statesman published the text of a telegram that Idaho's territorial delegate to Congress, Fred Dubois, had sent to territorial governor George L. Shoup the day before: "The President has just signed the bill making Idaho the forty-third State. Present my congratulations to the good people of Idaho. Turn the eagle loose."
A page earlier in the paper, a news story dated July 1 reported that the Senate had passed Idaho's statehood bill that same day. The story also reported that Dubois planned to ask President Benjamin Harrison to sign the bill into law on July 4--"the anniversary of American independence, and a date, which...will be doubly celebrated for years to come in the Territory soon to become a State."
Why did Harrison sign the bill a day earlier than Dubois wanted? Because of a section of federal law. Whenever a new state comes into existence, a new star is added to the flag. But the new star is official on the Fourth of July after the President signs the statehood bill. Rather than wait a full year for Idaho's star, Harrison signed the bill in time to make our 43rd star official the next day. My 42 Star Unofficial Flag