January 13, 1794 – President Washington Approves An Act to Change the American Flag

On March 4, 1791, Vermont became the first state added to the union following the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Kentucky joined the Union on June 1, 1792 and made the count fifteen.

On this day in history, President George Washington approved an act calling for the Flag of the United States to have fifteen stripes and fifteen stars, reflecting the admission of Vermont and Kentucky to the Union. (You can read The Flag Act of 1794 (1 Stat. 341) here.)

The new regulation signed by Washington went into effect on May 1, 1795.

The 15-stripe, 15-star flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem, now in Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

The 15-stripe, 15-star flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem, now in Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

By 1818, six additional states had joined the union – Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi and Illinois. The decision was made that year to return the number of stripes on the flag to 13 in recognition of the number of original colonies and increase the number of stars to equal the number of states. The Flag Act of April 4, 1818 (3 Stat. 415) (you can read the text here) established the modern rule of having thirteen stripes to represent the original thirteen colonies and having the number of stars match the number of states. It also provided that subsequent changes in the number of stars take effect on the fourth day of July succeeding a state’s admission.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: