The first officially recognised version of the American flag, from 1776, had 13 stars — in a circle.
Although even before the U.S. became an autonomous nation, Americans had a banner to display their patriotism.
Since then, the stars representing the increasing number of states on the flag have taken on different designs, like a flower, or wagon wheel.
Compiled by the team at Pop Chart Labs, each version tell its own story.
The Sons of Liberty, a secret society of dissidents, adopted this flag in 1767. The nine uneven stripes represent the 'loyal nine' colonies that protested the Stamp Act of Congress of 1765.
John Hulbert created this version in 1775. His company, the Third Regiment of New York, reportedly carried it. Its six-pointed stars are arranged in the cross of St. Andrew.
Some historians consider this the oldest flag meant to represent the entire country as well as the oldest to use 13 red and white stripes purposefully. The Minutemen reportedly carried it for the Battles on Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.
The Continental Colours flag (also known as the Grand Union flag) is considered the first flag of the autonomous colonies. As the flag of the revolution, it bears 13 stripes and the red cross of St. George of England.
The first official American Flag, generally attributed to Betsy Ross, chose stars to mimic the Washington coat of arms. Congress passed the first Flag Act a year later in 1777, which required all flags include 13 alternating red and white flags as well as thirteen white stars.
This version of the flag is associated with the American Revolution Battle of Bennington. Like other versions, it includes 13 stripes and stars but also the number '76,' recalling the year the Declaration of Independence was signed.
This design by Francis Hopkinson competes with the 'Betsy Ross' flag as the first true U.S. flag. He wrote to Congress in 1780 claiming he created the first official flag, but they never paid him for services.
Colour Sergeant William Batchelor reportedly carried the Cowpens flag during the Battle of Cowpens, a huge victory for reclaiming South Carolina from the British.
The Star-Spangled Banner flag, also known as the Great Garrison flag, flew at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Seeing it waving inspired Francis Scott Key to write the ubiquitous song with the same title.
There have been many 'great star' flags over the years, but few know about a proposal to have all navy ships display them. This particular version reportedly flew over the Capital Dome in 1818.
Although 'Old Glory' has become a phrase used for all American flags, this specific one, owned by Tennessean William Driver, made national news as a symbol of Union loyalty during the Civil War.
The newer version of the great star flag added stars as more states joined the nation. Congress also updated the Flag Act, which only included provisions for 13 stars.
While the origins and use of this flag are largely unknown, some versions contain a white strip down the left side, making it also known as the 'Candy Stripe' flag.
Another version about which little is known, the Cluster flag shows five clusters of six stars each.
A 'phalanx' is a term for a military formation dating back to Ancient Greece. The outermost stars on either side could represent leaders and stragglers in the military, and the longer stripes most likely make it a Naval flag.
This flag was flown at Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor. The first human death of the Civil War happened the day after the fighting at Sumter ended, April 14, 1861 when a cannon prematurely discharged.
The Wagon Wheel, with 36 stars, has an outer circle which contains another circle of stars with a five-point star comprised of stars inside it.
Medallion flags were especially popular during the centennial in 1876. They're highly valued by collectors.
Concentric circle flags have many versions which usually depict circles of stars around a larger image in the center. The one below was displayed on the postage stamp in 1877.
Robert G. Heft, then a high school student in Ohio, is credited with designing the modern flag in 1959, the same year Hawaii was admitted to the U.S. It follows very specific height, width, and colour regulations set by Congress.
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