Later Flag Facts…

In 1795, the number of stars and stripes was increased from 13 to 15 (to reflect the entry of Vermont and Kentucky as states of the Union). For a time the flag was not changed when subsequent states were admitted. It was the 15-star, 15-stripe flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “Defence of Fort M’Henry”, later known as “The Star-Spangled Banner”, which is now the American national anthem. The flag is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History in a two-story display chamber that protects the flag while it is on view.

On April 4, 1818, a plan was passed by Congress at the suggestion of U.S. Naval Captain Samuel C. Reid in which the flag was changed to have 20 stars, with a new star to be added when each new state was admitted, but the number of stripes would be reduced to 13 so as to honor the original colonies.

The act specified that new flag designs should become official on the first July 4th.

In 1912, the 48-star flag was adopted. This was the first time that a flag act specified an official arrangement of the stars in the canton, namely six rows of eight stars each, where each star would point upward. The U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, had already been using standardized designs while throughout the 19th century, different star patterns, both rectangular and circular, had been abundant in civilian use.

In 1960, the current 50-star flag was adopted, incorporating the most recent change, from 49 stars to 50, when the present design was chosen, after Hawaii gained statehood in August 1959.
49- and 50-star unions…

When Alaska and Hawaii were being considered for statehood in the 1950s, more than 1,500 designs were submitted to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The 49- and 50-star flags were each flown for the first time at Fort McHenry on Independence Day, in 1959 and 1960 respectively.

On July 4, 2007, the 50-star flag became the version of the flag in the longest use, surpassing the 48-star flag that was used from 1912 to 1959.

“Flower Flag” arrives in Asia…

The U.S. flag was brought to the city of Canton in China in 1784 by the merchant ship Empress of China, which carried a cargo of ginseng. There it gained the designation “Flower Flag”.

According to a pseudonymous account first published in the Boston Courier and later retold by author and U.S. naval officer George H. Preble: “When the thirteen stripes and stars first appeared at Canton, much curiosity was excited among the people. News was circulated that a strange ship had arrived from the further end of the world, bearing a flag “as beautiful as a flower”. Every body went to see the kwa kee chuen, or “flower flagship”. This name at once established itself in the language, and America is now called the kwa kee kwoh, the “flower flag country” — and an American, kwa kee kwoh yin — “flower flag countryman” — a more complimentary designation than that of “red headed barbarian” — the name first bestowed upon the Dutch.

In the above quote, the Chinese words are written phonetically based on spoken Cantonese. The names given were common usage in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Chinese now refer to the United States as Měiguó from Mandarin. Měi is short for Měilìjiān, phono-semantic matching of “American”) and “guó” means “country”, so this name is unrelated to the flag. However, the “flower flag” terminology persists in some places today: for example, American ginseng is called flower flag ginseng in Chinese, and Citibank, which opened a branch in China in 1902, is known as Flower Flag Bank.

Additionally, the seal of Shanghai Municipal Council in Shanghai International Settlement from 1869 included the U.S. flag as part of the top left-hand shield near the flag of the U.K., as the U.S. participated in the creation of this enclave in the Chinese city of Shanghai. It is also included in the badge of the Gulangyu Municipal Police in the International Settlement of Gulangyu, Amoy.

President Richard Nixon presented a U.S. flag and Moon rocks to Mao Zedong during his visit to China in 1972. They are now on display at the National Museum of China.

The U.S. flag took its first trip around the world in 1787–1790 on board the Columbia. William Driver, who coined the phrase “Old Glory”, took the U.S. flag around the world in 1831–32. The flag attracted the notice of the Japanese when an oversized version was carried to Yokohama by the steamer Great Republic as part of a round-the-world journey in 1871.

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