Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1777

The Stars and Stripes flies

The American flag was flown in battle for the first time on this day in 1777, during a Revolutionary War skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware. Patriot General William Maxwell ordered the “Stars and Stripes” banner raised as a detachment of his infantry and cavalry met an advance guard of British and Hessian troops. The rebels were defeated and forced to retreat to Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania, where they joined General George Washington’s main force.

Three months earlier, on June 14, the Continental Congress had adopted a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” The national flag, which became known as the Stars and Stripes, was based on the Grand Union flag, a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that also consisted of 13 red and white stripes. According to legend, Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross designed the new canton, which consisted of a circle of 13 stars on a blue background, at the request of General George Washington. Historians have been unable to conclusively prove or disprove this legend.

With the entrance of new states into the Union after independence, new stripes and stars were added to represent the new additions. In 1818, however, Congress enacted a law stipulating that the 13 original stripes be restored and that only stars be added to represent new states.

On June 14, 1877, the first Flag Day observance was held on the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the flag. As instructed by Congress, the U.S. flag was flown from all public buildings across the country. In the years after the first Flag Day, several states continued to observe the anniversary, and, in 1949, Congress officially designated June 14 as Flag Day, a national day of observance.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The Stars and Stripes flies

The American flag is flown in battle for the first time, during a Revolutionary War skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware. Patriot General William Maxwell ordered the stars and strips banner raised as a detachment of his infantry and cavalry met an advance guard of British and ...read more

Allies invade Italian mainland

The British 8th Army under Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery begins the Allied invasion of the Italian peninsula, crossing the Strait of Messina from Sicily and landing at Calabria–the “toe” of Italy. On the day of the landing, the Italian government secretly agreed to the ...read more

Treaty of Paris signed

The American Revolution officially comes to an end when representatives of the United States, Great Britain, Spain and France sign the Treaty of Paris on this day in 1783. The signing signified America’s status as a free nation, as Britain formally recognized the independence of ...read more

Pope Benedict XV named to papacy

On September 3, 1914, barely a month after the outbreak of World War I, Giacomo della Chiesa is elected to the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church, becoming Pope Benedict XV. An aristocratic native of Genoa, Italy, who had served as a cardinal since the previous May, Benedict ...read more

Confederate forces enter Kentucky

Confederate General Leonidas Polk commits a major political blunder by marching his troops into Columbus, Kentucky–negating Kentucky’s avowed neutrality and causing the Unionist legislature to invite the U.S. government to drive the invaders away. Kentucky was heavily divided ...read more