National Geographic : 1949 May
The Flag of the United States and the Jack Page 641 ALTHOUGH the Colonies became the United States on July 4, 1776, nothing was done about a flag until June 14, 1777, when Congress adopted a flag resolution (page 636). In the Revolution the Stars and Stripes was carried officially in battle only by the Navy. It was flown early over permanent military establish ments, but it was not included in Army Regula tions as a garrison flag until 1834. The same year it was prescribed for Artillery, for the Infantry in 1841, and for Cavalry in 1895. The Marine Corps prescribed its use in 1876. The designer of the Stars and Stripes is un known; present consensus is that Francis Hop kinson at least made the drawing for the flag. Early flags had the stars arranged in circles, circles around a center star, quincunxes, ovals, great stars, etc. After the admission of Vermont and Kentucky to the Union, the flag was changed from 13 stripes and 13 stars to 15 stripes and 15 stars by the law of 1794, effective on May 1, 1795. In 1818 a third flag law returned the design to the original 13 stripes and provided for a union with 20 stars, to which a new star would be added upon the admission of every new State. The law did not specify arrangement of stars or proportions of the flag. Irregularities in the flag prompted President Taft in 1912 to prescribe its proportions for governmental use and per mitted special sizes for the Army and Navy. In referring to the flag, all the acts of Congress have called it the "Flag of the United States," never the "United States Flag" or the "American Flag." First to call it "Old Glory," probably as early as 1824, was William Driver, a sea captain living in Nashville, Tennessee, when Union forces took the city in 1862. Functional names for the Flag of the United States, together with proportions or sizes, are: The National Flag for Government buildings; 1 to 1.9. The Ensign, the National Flag in Navy usage; and for airships, ships, and boats of the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps; 1 to 1.9. The National Color used by dismounted units: for Army and Marine Corps, 4 feet 4 inches by 5 feet 6 inches; for Navy, 5 feet 1% inches by 6 feet 6 inches. The Army uses fringe. The National Standard used by Army and Air Force for mounted, mechanized, and motorized units: 3 feet by 4 feet, plus fringe. Designs of OrganizationalColors and Standards differ from the National Flag. These are de scribed with the services to which they belong. For the Merchant Flag no size is established, since it is not for Government use. Manufacturers make the Flag of the United States in a variety of proportions, for no official sizes are fixed for nongovernmental flags. The union of the Flag of the United States has served as the country's Jack since 1777. The term "Union Jack" is frequently used, but many flag authorities feel that it is undesirable because the Union Flag of Great Britain was unofficially called the "Union Jack" before the United States was established. While the Navy regards the Jack as a flag for Government vessels, some merchant ships also use it (page 638). Flags of the President, the Vice President, and Heads of Executive Departments of the United States Pages 641 and 643 THE PRESIDENT of the United States, Vice President, and Heads of Executive Depart ments all use personal or distinguishing flags. Four stars represent civilian rank as Heads of Executive Departments. Thus the Secretary of the Army with a four-star flag presides over five star generals, whose rank is military. Ten of the 12 secretarial flags bear reproduc tions or adaptations of official seals.* The President of the United States. The first special use of a flag for the President was in 1888. The current design, adopted in 1945, replaced the design of 1916. The 1916 flag showed the Presi dent's seal with a white star in each corner. The flag was criticized because the eagle faced sinister, that is, to its own left. The new flag not only changes the eagle's head to dexter but also en circles it with 48 white stars. The Vice President of the United States. A special design for the Vice President was not adopted until 1936, when he was given a flag like the President's with colors reversed. With the adoption in 1945 of a new design for the President, a change for the Vice President was also required. A design was approved on Novem ber 10, 1948, but a drawing of the flag was not available until so late that it was necessary to show it on the second plate. As illustrated, page 643, the design is a "color" (that is, for ceremonial use) and therefore has a blue fringe; when used as a "flag" it would not have fringe. Secretary of Agriculture. Adopted in 1941, the flag carries the Departmental seal; 1862 is the date of establishment of the Department; 1889 the date of its elevation to executive rank. Secretary of the Air Force. This flag, which carries the Air Force Headquarters star on gold pilot wings, was approved in 1947. Secretary of the Army. Taken over when the Secretary of War became the Secretary of the Army, his flag carries the United States coat of arms. The Under and Assistant Secretaries use the same design, reversing color background. * Detailed histories of the seals of Government Departments appear in "Seals of Our Nation, States, and Territories," by Elizabeth W. King, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, July, 1946.