North America

Tennessee - The Volunteer State 1

Tennessee – The Volunteer State

The flag of the state of Tennessee consists of an emblem on a field of red, with a strip of blue on the fly. The emblem in the middle consists of three stars on a blue circle.
The three stars represent the three Grand Divisions of the state, East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee. The blue circle around the stars represents the unity of the “Grand Divisions” of the state. The blue bar at the edge of the flag was just a design consideration. When asked about the blue bar, Reeves stated that “The final blue bar relieves the sameness of the crimson field and prevents the flag from showing too much crimson when hanging limp.”

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Kentucky - The Bluegrass State 2

Kentucky – The Bluegrass State

The flag consists of the Commonwealth’s seal on a navy blue field, surrounded by the words “Commonwealth of Kentucky” above and sprigs of goldenrod, the state flower, below. The seal depicts a pioneer and a statesman embracing. Popular belief claims that the buckskin-clad man on the left is Daniel Boone, who was largely responsible for the exploration of Kentucky, and the man in the suit on the right is Henry Clay, Kentucky’s most famous statesman. However, the official explanation is that the men represent all frontiersmen and statesmen, rather than any specific persons. The state motto: “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” circles them. The motto comes from the lyrics of “The Liberty Song”, a patriotic song from the American Revolution.

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Rhode Island - The Ocean State 3

Rhode Island – The Ocean State

Rhode Island’s tradition of independence and dissent gave it a prominent role in the American Revolution.  Rhode Island was the first of the thirteen colonies to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown on May 4, 1776.  It was also the last of the thirteen colonies to ratify the United States Constitution on May 29, 1790, once assurances were made that a Bill of Rights would become part of the Constitution.

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North Carolina - The Tar Heel State 4

North Carolina – The Tar Heel State

That the flag of North Carolina shall consist of a blue union, containing in the center thereof a white star with the letter “N” in gilt on the left and the letter “C” in gilt on the right of said star, the circle containing the same to be one-third the width of the union. The fly of the flag shall consist of two equally proportioned bars; the upper bar to be red, the lower bar to be white; that the length of the bars horizontally shall be equal to the perpendicular length of the union, and the total length of the flag shall be one-third more than its width. That above the star in the center of the union there shall be a gilt scroll in semi-circular form, containing in black letters this inscription “May 20th 1775,” and that below the star there shall be a similar scroll containing in black letters the inscription: “April 12th 1776”. It bears the dates of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (May 20, 1775) and of the Halifax Resolves (April 12, 1776), documents that place North Carolina at the forefront of the American independence movement. Both dates also appear on the Great Seal of North Carolina.

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Virginia - The Old Dominion State 5

Virginia – The Old Dominion State

Several European expeditions, including a group of Spanish Jesuits, explored the Chesapeake Bay during the 16th century. In 1583, Queen Elizabeth I of England granted Walter Raleigh a charter to plant a colony north of Spanish Florida. In 1584, Raleigh sent an expedition to the Atlantic coast of North America. The name “Virginia” may have been suggested then by Raleigh or Elizabeth, perhaps noting her status as the “Virgin Queen.” Initially the name applied to the entire coastal region from South Carolina to Maine, plus the island of Bermuda. Later, subsequent royal charters modified the Colony’s boundaries. The London Company was incorporated as a joint stock company by the proprietary Charter of 1606, which granted land rights to this area. The company financed the first permanent English settlement in the “New World”, Jamestown. Named for King James I, it was founded in May 1607. With the bankruptcy of the London Company in 1624, the settlement was taken into royal authority as an English crown colony.

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New Hampshire - The Granite State 6

New Hampshire – The Granite State

New Hampshire was one of the thirteen colonies that rebelled against British rule during the American Revolution.  By the time of the American Revolution, New Hampshire was a divided province. The economic and social life of the Seacoast region revolved around sawmills, shipyards, merchants’ warehouses, and established village and town centers. Wealthy merchants built substantial homes, furnished them with the finest luxuries, and invested their capital in trade and land speculation. At the other end of the social scale, there developed a permanent class of day laborers, mariners, indentured servants and even slaves.

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South Carolina - The Palmetto State 7

South Carolina – The Palmetto State

In 1775, Colonel William Moultrie was asked by the Revolutionary Council of Safety to design a flag for the South Carolina troops to use during the American Revolutionary War. Moultrie’s design had the blue of the militia’s uniforms and the crescent, a symbol which also appeared on the militia’s uniforms. It was first flown at Fort Johnson. This flag was flown in the defense of a new fortress on Sullivan’s Island, when Moultrie faced off against a British fleet. Soon popularly known as either the Liberty Flag or Moultrie Flag, it became the standard of the South Carolinian militia, and was presented in Charleston, by Major General Nathanael Greene, when that city was liberated at the end of the war.
The palmetto was added in 1861, also a reference to Moultrie’s defense of Sullivan’s Island; the fortress he’d constructed had survived largely because the palmettos, laid over sand walls, were able to withstand British cannon.

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The Stars and Stripes Forever 9

The Stars and Stripes Forever

In 1818 Congress passed a plan which would come to be known as the Flag Act of 1818.  This act established many of the characteristics of the flag we know today.  The flag of the day was changed to include 20 stars, one for each of the states then admitted to the Union but the number of stripes was reduced to 13 to honor the original 13 colonies.  The Act also specified that new versions of the flag would become official on the first 4 July following the admission of new states.
It would not be until 1912, with the adoption of the 48 star flag, that the arrangement of the stars in the blue field would be standardized into the staggered arrangement of nine rows with every other row having five or six stars.

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