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20th Century Flags


The continued development of the United States Flag in the last half of the 19th century came quickly.  During the Civil War Nevada applied for and was granted statehood, hence that state's motto "Battle Born".    Then began the slow process of re-admitting the eleven states that had seceded from the Union back, into statehood in the Union.   Tennessee, the last of the eleven states to leave the Union, became the first to be re-admitted on July 24, 1866.  It would be four more years before the remaining states would be gradually granted their rights to statehood.

During that same year the people of Nebraska voted for statehood, a request granted by Congress.  President Andrew Johnson VETOED the request, fearing that being a largely Republican area, the added representation would tip the scales against him in the impeachment proceedings he was facing.  Congress overrode his veto on March 1, 1867 and Nebraska became the 37th state.  (14 months later the Senate vote of impeachment fell 1 VOTE short of the two thirds required under the Constitution (126 - 47).

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In 1868 the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina were readmitted to the Union.  The following year Texas was readmitted, and in 1870 Mississippi, Georgia, and Virginia received renewed statehood.  With the last of the Confederate States reunited with the Union, the stage was set for the Centennial celebration of the United States in 1876.  During that celebration of our Nation's 100th birthday a new state was admitted.   Incorporated twenty years earlier as the State of Jefferson, it would have been the first state named for a United States President.  Instead the people of this gold-rich western territory became the 38th state under the name "Colorado".   It became known as the "Centennial State" due the date of its admission.

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Following the admission of Colorado, the growth of the United States slowed for thirteen years.  On November 2, 1889, for the first time in history, TWO states were admitted on the same date:  South Dakota and North Dakota.   Six days later Montana became the 41st state, followed 3 days later by Washington.   The addition of five new states in the week from November 2 - 11 would have resulted in a flag of 42 stars the following July 4th, however one day before Independence Day a 43rd state was added, the State of Idaho.  Six days after the admission of Idaho, Wyoming was admitted as our 44th State. 

The frenzy of adding 6 new States in less than nine months slowed for a 6-year respite.  Then, as the dawn of a new century approached, Utah applied for statehood.  The request was granted on January 4, 1896, making it state number 45.  It was a flag of 45 stars, similar to the one shown here, that flew over the United States of America as the 20th century dawned. 

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It was under this flag that the United States became engaged in its first major war on foreign soil (excluding the battles in Mexico and Korea earlier in the century), when the battleship "Maine" sank in Cuba.  The 45-star flag saw Teddy Roosevelt and his "Rough Riders" through their famous charge at San Juan Hill.  It was also under this flag the the United States Navy established our Nation's supremacy on the seas when it defeated the formidable Spanish Armada.

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Seven years into the new century Oklahoma became State #46 on November 16, 1907.  The 46-star flag changed again five years later with the addition of New Mexico on January 6, 1912;  and Arizona a month later on February 14, 1912.    The flag of 48 stars became our Nation's most enduring flag, existing without change for 42 years. 

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48-STAR FLAG  (1912 - 1959)


Due its longevity and the rapid pace of historical events, the 48-star flag developed a legacy that may have surpassed its predecessors including the 35-star Civil War flag and even the 13-star flag of the American Revolution.  It was under a banner of 48 stars that President Wilson called for a special day of honor for the flag.  The process of pledging allegiance to the Flag of the United States became official under the 48-star flag as well.  (More about both of these subjects a little further in the tour.)

Under the 48-star flag the United States faced a world at war and sent our soldiers to defend the freedom of Europe.   During the American Revolution, French nobleman Marquis De Lafayette had sacrificed much to a United States Flag of 13 stars.  As American soldiers arrived in France in 1917, Colonel Charles E. Stanton stood at the tomb of Layfette under a flag now bearing 48 stars in testimony to that Nation's growth to proclaim, "Lafayette, we are here."  Slightly more than 20 years later this same flag saw our Nation through another World War.  It was this flag that was flying over Pearl Harbor when our Nation was attacked on December 7, 1941.  It was this flag that was raised from the top of Mount Suribachi in 1944.   It was this flag that landed on the shores of Korea in 1950. 


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Before we continue our tour and learn about the flag of 50 stars to which you Pledge Allegiance today, I'd like to tell you about two very special, HISTORIC flags of 48 stars.  Click on me at the left to visit the archives and learn about President Roosevelt's FLAG OF LIBERATION and then return to your tour.

Click on the NEXT arrow to go to the next page is this series on the history of our Flag.  If you ever get lost along the way, you can click on the compass to go to our hyper-linked Site Map for the Hall of Heroes.

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The 50-Star Flag

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[History of the Flag]  [13 Star Flag] [15 Star Flag] [Pre-Civil War Flags]
[Civil War Flags][20th Century Flags][Our 50 Star Flag] [Flag Day]
[Arthur MacArthur's Flag] [William Carney's Flag] [FDR's Flag of Liberation]


How to Display the Flag The National Anthem The Pledge of Allegiance
The American Creed The Seal of our Nation Our National Symbol


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Unless otherwise noted, all materials by C. Douglas Sterner

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