13-Star American Flag
Stars and Stripes Forever!
by Jenny Cobb, Associate Curator of Exhibitions
Completely hand-sewn around 1790, this 13-Star Flag is an early version of what would become known as the “Great Luminary Pattern,” where individual stars are arranged to form a single star.
Since it was first flown in Philadelphia on June 14, 1777, the American Flag has led soldiers into battle, flown over government buildings and businesses, and inspired poetry, art, and songs. During its 240-year multi-storied history, the Flag of the United States has been associated with times of tradition, revolution, freedom, honor, union, protest, and patriotism. It has flown in celebration, mourning, and crisis. People around the world have used our country's most identifiable symbol to express what it means to be an American.
This earliest version of the star-shaped pattern was determined by its flag-maker as there were no regulations governing star placement when it was made. Though today they represent the original united colonies, the 13 red and white stripes were originally meant as a symbol of provocation and colonial defiance against Great Britain. The stars symbolized the new nation — the radical and revolutionary experiment of “a new constellation.” Despite the meaning imbued in the 13-Star Flag, there is little evidence to suggest that the flag was commonly used during the Revolutionary War (1775–1783).
This flag was on view September 30, 2016 through January 16, 2017 as part of American Flags, the first Bullock Museum exhibition to explore the transformation of the many variations of the red, white, and blue into the flag of today.
Dr. Peter Keim
This artifact is not on view.