United States

The US flag is perhaps the most recognized flag in the world, and although its symbolism has remained constant, its form has changed more than most others over the past 200 years.


When the flag was first designed, the colors weren’t given any specific meaning, they were based on other flags of the era, specifically the British Red Ensign and the flag of the British East India Company.

They were given meaning in 1782 when the design for the Great Seal of the United States was finalized. The white signifies innocence and purity. Red signifies strength and valor. Blue signifies vigilance and justice.

The stripes represent the original 13 colonies of the United States. The stars represent the states that comprise the Union. Stars were chosen for the canton (the upper left corner of a flag [on the US flag it is called the Union]) to signify that the US was a new constellation among the firmament of nations.


Specifications for the first flag were first laid out in the Flag Resolution of 1777. Although the number of stripes and stars was specified in this resolution, the arrangement of the elements was not formalized at this point. The so-called Betsy Ross flag arranged its stars in a circle. The naval flag designed by Francis Hopkinson had 8-pointed stars. One flag used by John Paul Jones on his ship the Serapis included blue stripes in its design.

In 1795 the flag was updated to have 15 stars and 15 stripes to recognize the new states of Kentucky and Vermont. This is the “Star Spangled Banner” that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem. When the flag was subsequently updated, the stripes were kept to 13 to honor the original 13 colonies and the stars were increased to recognize the number of states.

Since the Flag Resolution of 1777, there have been 27 different US flags with different numbers of stars. The arrangement of the stars, however, wasn’t specified until the 48-star flag introduced in 1912 with the addition of Arizona and New Mexico to the Union. The current US flag has been used longer than any other, first used in 1960 with the addition of Hawaii.





Old Glory Red #B22234


Old Glory Blue #3C3B6E