Discussion in 'American Flag History' started by EmailPoster, Jun 6, 2006.
size of the original American flag,...
You've stumped me! I've looked all over and cannot find a reference for what size the first American flag was. That's probably because there's argument over which flag was first.
I can tell you, however, that the Star Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem, was originally 30 feet by 42 feet. Some of it is now missing so it is only 32 feet long now. Also, one star is missing.
The standard flags used at military garrisons today are smaller at 20 by 38 feet.
Thanks for asking. If anyone knows the answer, please let us know!
As a practical matter, the first flag was probably 10 to 20 feet long, as it would have flown from a ship and needed to be that large to be seen across the waters. The "stars and stripes" as we know it today was a naval flag rarely seen on land. The concept of a "national flag" was unknown at the time, and a citizen would have no reason to fly a flag in front of their store or house. It just wasn't done.
Not only was there no standard size for flags in the 18th century, there was no standard for the arrangement of stars. The perfect circle we see today as the "Betsy Ross Flag" is a mythical design promoted by Betsy's grandson in1870. Although we do know that Betsy Ross sewed flags, there's no evidence beyond family legends that she had anything to do with G. Washington or making suggestions on the design (or size) of the first flag.
There was no attempt to standardize the size or star arrangement, other than by the USArmy and USNavy until 1912.
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