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Submitted by on Dec 9, 2021

The flag of the United States of America, sometimes known as the American flag or the US flag, is the country’s national flag. It has thirteen equal horizontal red (top and bottom) alternating with white stripes, with a blue rectangle in the canton (referred to as the “union”) bearing fifty small white five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows, where rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternate with rows of five stars.

The flag’s 50 stars represent the 50 states of America, while the 13 stripes reflect the thirteen British colonies that claimed independence from the United Kingdom and formed the country’s initial states. The Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, and the Star-Spangled Banner are all nicknames for the flag.

The Continental Congress would not formally approve flags with “stars, white on a blue field” for another year after the Declaration of Independence was signed in July 1776. The flag known as “the Continental Colors” at the time was traditionally regarded as the first national flag.

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During the American War for Independence, the Continental Navy raised the Colors as the ensign of the nascent nation”likely as a means of changing their former British red ensigns by adding white stripes”and used it until 1777, when it became the foundation for succeeding designs.

George Preble used the term “Grand Union” for the Continental Colors for the first time in his 1872 history of the United States flag.

The flag is quite similar to the British East India Company flag of the time, and Sir Charles Fawcett said in 1937 that the design was influenced by the company flag. Both flags might have been readily made by adding white stripes to a British Red Ensign, which was one of the three maritime flags in use at the time. An East India Company flag, on the other hand, might have anything from nine to thirteen stripes and could not be flown outside of the Indian Ocean.

Benjamin Franklin once delivered a speech in support of the United States adopting the company’s flag as their national flag. To George Washington, he stated, “While the field of your flag must be innovative in terms of design aspects, it does not have to be completely new in terms of features. I’m referring to the flag of the East India Company, which is already in use.” This, like the East India Company, was a manner of representing American allegiance to the Crown as well as the United States’ desire to be self-governing.

Some colonies believed the firm might be a formidable partner in the American War of Independence because they shared similar goals and frustrations over British tax systems. As a result, colonists flew the company’s flag to show their support.

The hypothesis that the Grand Union Flag was a direct descendent of the East India Company’s flag, on the other hand, has been questioned for a lack of documented proof. The connection is clear, though, and a number of the United States’ Founding Fathers were aware of the East India Company’s operations and their unfettered management of India under Company authority.

In any event, both the stripes (barry) and the stars (mullets) have traditional heraldic predecessors. Mullets were relatively uncommon in early modern heraldry, however those in the coat of arms of Valais of 1618, where seven mullets stood for seven districts, are an example of mullets indicating territorial divisions predating the United States flag.

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