The American flag, also called The Star-Spangled Banner or Old Glory, has thirteen white stripes interspersed with Red (Bottom and top) and a blue canton with fifty white 5-pointed stars arranged in nine horizontal rows.
The thirteen red and white stripes represent the thirteen colonies that gained independence from Great Britain and became the first American States. The Fifty white stars represent all fifty U.S. states. The original American flag with thirteen stars was approved on June 14, 1777.
The history of the American flag
After achieving their independence in July 1776, the Continental Congress that governed the thirteen states during the American Revolution approved the flag of the Grand Union as the first American flag. The United States used it until June 14, 1777, when the flag’s resolution was approved stating that the American flag should have thirteen red and white bands with thirteen white stars on a blue rectangle symbolizing a new constellation.
The 13-star flag was officially first flown at Fort Schuyler on August 3, 1777. The resolution did not specify the arrangement of the stars or dictate that the flag should have seven red and six white. The Continental Congress left the details to the designer, resulting in numerous flag designs with different star schemes of which the famous one is Betsy Ross’s flag. Francis Hopkinson designed the first American flag with the thirteen stars arranged in a row in 1777.
Later Flag Acts
The number of stars and stripes on the flag rose to fifteen after the Kentucky and Vermont became part of the United States and became official on May 1, 1795. The fifteen-star flag inspired Scott Key to write the current U.S. national anthem. On april 4, 1818, a plan was approved to reduce the number of stripes to thirteen and increase the number of stars on the flag with each admission of a new state according to the suggestion of Captain Samuel Reid.
The law stated that the new flag becomes official on July 4 of the year in which a new state obtains statehood. The twenty-star flag was approved on July 4, 1818, after Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Indiana were granted statehood.
Before the United States adopted the 48-star flag, they had no official arrangement for the stars at the Canton and throughout the nineteenth century there were many flag designs with different star patterns. The recent flag change occurred in 1959 and 1960, after Alaska and Hawaii were granted the status of the Forty-ninth and the fiftieth State, respectively. The longest-used U.S. flag design is the current 50-star design that has been flown since 1960, followed by the 48-star design that was used for forty-seven years.
The future of the American flag
Puerto Rico held a referendum on statehood in november, 2012, but the legitimacy of the election was disputed. They held another referendum on June 11, 2017, and although 97% of people approved of the idea of statehood, only 23% of registered voters participated. Washington D.C. held a referendum election in november 2016, and 86% of voters approved the proposal.
Therefore, there is a possibility that both Washington DC and Puerto Rico will receive statehood, and this means that two more stars will be added to the flag, but their candidacy for the union requires congressional approval.