Q. What do the red, white, and blue of the flag represent?
The Continental Congress left no record to show why it chose the colors. However, in 1782, the Congress of the Confederation chose these same colors for the Great Seal of the United States and listed their meaning as follows: white to mean purity and innocence, red for valor and hardiness, and blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. According to legend, George Washington interpreted the elements of the flag this way: the stars were taken from the sky, the red from the British colors, and the white stripes signified the secession from the home country. However, there is no official designation or meaning for the colors of the flag.
Q. Why would Betsy Ross be chosen to make the flag?
Betsy was previously well acquainted with Washington as they both worshiped at Christ Church in Philadelphia where her pew was next to his. It is said that she had embroidered ruffles for his shirt bosoms and cuffs, and that it was partly owing to his friendship for her that she was chosen to make the flag. She also impressed him when she showed him how to make a 5-point star with one snip of the scissors, doing away with the originally planned 6-point star.
Q. Who designed the flag?
Francis Hopkinson, a member of the Continental Congress designed our flag. On June 14, 1777 – a date we now celebrate as Flag Day – Congress adopted his new design.
Q. Why were the stars in a circle?
The stars were in a circle so that no one colony would be viewed above another. It is reported that George Washington said, “Let the 13 stars in a circle stand as a new constellation in the heavens.”
Q. Who was Mary Pickersgill?
Mary Young Pickersgill sewed the very large (30’x42′) Star-Spangled Banner in the summer of 1813. It flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 and was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key to write what would become our National Anthem. Pickersgill’s flag today hangs at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Her house still stands as a museum you can visit in Baltimore, Maryland.
Q. Why is the flag called “Old Glory”?
In 1831, Captain William Driver, a shipmaster from Salem, Massachusetts, left on one of his many world voyages. Friends presented him with a flag of 24 stars. As the banner opened to the ocean breeze, he exclaimed, “Old Glory.” He kept his flag for many years, protecting it during the Civil War, until it was flown over the Tennessee capital. His “Old Glory” became a nickname for all American flags.