Evolution of the United States Flag
No one knows with absolute certainty who designed the
first stars and stripes or who made it. Congressman
Francis Hopkinson seems most likely to have
designed it, and few historians believe that Betsy
Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, made the first one.
Until the Executive Order of June 24, 1912, neither the order of the stars nor the proportions of the
flag was prescribed. Consequently, flags dating before this period sometimes show unusual
arrangements of the stars and odd proportions, these features being left to the discretion of the
flag maker. In general, however, straight rows of stars and proportions similar to those later
adopted officially were used. The principal acts affecting the flag of the United States are the
- On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the
Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: "Resolved, That the flag of the United States
be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a
blue field, representing a new Constellation."
- Act of January 13, 1794 - provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
- Act of April 4, 1818 - provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the
flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state, signed by President Monroe.
- Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 - established proportions of the flag and
provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each
star to be upward.
- Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of
the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
- Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of
the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizon tally and eleven rows of stars staggered
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