Arago: Exhibits

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The Evolution of the American Flag

Over the course of its illustrious history, the American flag has become a national symbol of strength and unity, and a renowned icon of American pride and inspiration. The flag’s design has changed over time, reflecting the evolving composition of the United States. The most recent modification to the flag was depicted on a stamp issued July 4, 1960. This is the first stamp to show the American flag with all fifty stars, celebrating the addition of Hawaii as the fiftieth state in the United States of America.

The story of the American flag began over 200 years ago, on January 1, 1776. On that day, the Continental Army, under the command of General George Washington, was laying siege to British-controlled Boston. As the siege continued, Washington ordered a flag to be hoisted over his base at Prospect Hill. The Grand Union flag, with thirteen alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner (known as the canton) was the first known flag flown as a symbol of the new country.

The 6-cent Grand Union Flag stamp was issued on July 4, 1968, along with nine other historic flags stamps commemorating the flags carried by colonists and then citizens of a new nation.

United States Master Collection, Scott 1153, U.S. Flag (50-Stars) (1960)

The 50-star flag stamp was issued July 4, 1960. (Scott 1153)

United States Master Collection, Scott 1352, Grand Union Flag, Historic Flag Series

The 6-cent Grand Union Flag stamp was issued in the Historic Flag Series July 4, 1968. (Scott 1352)