Fifty years ago this Fourth of July, America hosted up its brand new fifty-star banner. It replaced the forty-nine-star banner that was only in service for one year. It is the longest serving flag we have and this year is its golden jubilee. Our second longest serving flag was the forty-eight-star banner that had served for forty-seven years.
Our first flag had the familiar thirteen stripes with the British Union Jack in the corner. This flag was first used by George Washington's Army from to December 3, 1775 to June 14, 1777.
After being a nation for less than a year and still at war with the mother country, we decided we should change our flag. Dropping the Union Jack in favor of a the a thirteen-star banner representing the free and united States of Delaware, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. This flag would serve the nation from June 14, 1777 to May 1, 1795. It would serve all the way from the Revolution to the presidency of George Washington.
With Vermont and Kentucky having joined the Union, it seemed proper to include them in our flag and therefore a new flag with both fifteen stars and fifteen stripes was made. It became official on May 1, 1795 lasting to July 4, 1818. Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe would all lead the nation under this flag.
In 1818, a naval officer named Captain Samuel Reid proposed a change. The states Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Indiana had all joined the union but were not represented in the flag, mainly because no one knew how to add them without making a messy flag. Captain Reid's idea was simple: reduce the number of stripes from fifteen to thirteen, with stripes representing the original thirteen colonies that became the first thirteen states; increase the number for stars from fifteen to twenty, with each star representing a state. He also suggested to have the new flag become official on July 4, and every time a new state joins the Union on the following July 4, a new flag with an additional star will become the official version. Thus, the new twenty-star banner became official on July 4, 1818, and would remain the flag for only one year being replaced on July 4, 1819.
With Illinois joining the union the twenty-one-star banner was became the official flag on July 4, 1819, making James Monroe the first president to have three official flags durning his presidency, and was replaced on July 4, 1820, serving only a year.
Alabama and Maine joined the Union. So on July 4, 1820, America had a new twenty-three-star banner and President Monroe had now seen the fourth flag of his presidency. It would remain to July 4, 1822 serving two years.
President Monroe got a record setting fifth flag when the other half of the Missouri Compromise, Missouri, joined the Union. The new flag became official on July 4, 1822 and would remain until July 4, 1836, serving for fourteen years. The twenty-four-star banner would serve for Presidents Monroe, J.Q. Adams, and Jackson.
With the admission of Arkansas into the Union the twenty-five-star banner became official on July 4, 1836 and serving for one year being retired on July 4, 1837. This flag would serve under both Presidents Jackson and Van Buren.
With the addition of Michigan to the Union the twenty-six-star flag became official July 4, 1837 and would last until July 4, 1845. This flag would serve the country for eight years under Presidents Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, and Polk.
Florida's addition to the Union led to the twenty-seven-star flag taking flight on July 4, 1845 and would serve a single year, being replaced on July 4, 1846.
With Texas now officially a state, the new twenty-eight-star flag became official on July 4, 1846. This made President Polk the first chief executive since Monroe to have more than two flags during his presidency. Since this flag only lasted a year Polk would get another one on July 4, 1847.
Now with Iowa joining the Union, the twenty-nine-star flag became the new symbol of the nation on July 4, 1847, it would serve a single year being replaced on July 4, 1848.
President Polk tied Monroe for most flags and in just one term, when Wisconsin joined the Union. The new flag was hoisted up on July 4, 1848, and the thirty-star banner began what would be a three year reign that would end on July 4, 1851. Serving Presidents Polk, Taylor, and Fillmore.
With the great state of California joining the Union, the new thirty-one-star flag flew on July 4, 1851 and would serve seven years before being retired on July 4, 1858, having served under Presidents Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan.
Minnesota joining the Union gave the country a new thirty-two-star flag that would serve only a year being retired on July 4, 1859.
With Oregon becoming its own state the country flew the thirty-three-star flag on July 4, 1859 that would serve for two years being replaced on July 4, 1861. This flag would serve under Presidents Buchanan, and Lincoln.
The decision to admit Kansas nearly tore the country apart, and when the nation was coming a part Kansas became represented on the new thirty-four-star flag that would serve the nation from July 4, 1861 to July 4, 1863.
When Virginia did not want to be part of America anymore, West Virginia decided it did not want to be part of Virginia, therefore a new thirty-five-star flag would become official on July 4, 1863 and would serve two years being retired on July 4, 1865 after serving both Presidents Lincoln and Johnson.
Nevada was added to the Union to give the Republicans some help during the Civil War, on July 4, 1865 the thirty-six-star flag would begin its two year service, it would be retired on July 4, 1867.
Nebraska joining the Union would give the nation a thirty-seven star flag that would fly for ten years, from July 4, 1867 to July 4, 1877, serving under Presidents Johnson, Grant, and Hayes.
Colorado becoming a state gave the Union a thirty-eight star flag that would serve the county for thirteen years from July 4, 1877 to July 4, 1890, serving under Presidents Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, and B. Harrison.
In the biggest year for new states, Montana, North and South Dakota, Idaho, and Washington were all added to the Union and the nation received a forty-three-star flag that would last just a year, from July 4, 1890 to July 4, 1891.
Wyoming becoming a state gave the Union a forty-four-star flag that would serve for five years, between July 4, 1891 to July 4, 1896, serving both Presidents B. Harrison and Cleveland.
After a long wait, Utah was admitted to the Union and the nation put up a forty-five-star flag on July 4, 1896, and it would last for twelve years before being retired on July 4, 1908. This flag would serve Presidents Cleveland, McKinley, and Roosevelt.
Oklahoma was admitted to the Union that would now fly the forty-six-star flag for four years, from July 4, 1908 to July 4, 1912. This flag would serve both Presidents Roosevelt and Taft.
Two states of Arizona and New Mexico joined the Union and on July 4, 1912, so the nation put up the forty-eight-star flag. This flag would see us through two world wars and flew for forty-seven years, from July 4, 1912 to July 4, 1959. This flag would serve under Presidents Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, F. D. Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower.
When Alaska joined the Union in the first half of the year 1959, the new flag would go up on that July 4 and remain until July 4 1960, lasting only a year.
Hawaii, which was admitted to the Union in second half of 1959, had to wait to the next year to get a star. Fifty years ago today the new fifty-star flag became the symbol of our nation. Our longest serving flag has served under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, L.B. Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, G.W. Bush, and now Obama.