Hurrah for the flag of the free!
On June 14, 1777, as the campaign for American freedom ground grimly forward, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution. "Resolved," it read, "That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation." The resolution was adopted. So was born the first official flag of the fledgling United States. But would this audacious Flag Act, establishing a new standard for a new people, stand up to the firepower of the mighty British Empire?
May it wave as our standard forever,
John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay carefully affixed their signatures, just squeezing them in at the end of the document. Above their signatures, David Hartley, representing King George III of England, had scribbled his own. The date was September 3, 1783. The document was the Treaty of Paris, officially ending the Revolutionary War. But many nations had been born. The real question was: Would the United States survive?
The gem of the land and the sea,
Thomas Jefferson was outraged. For years, pirates from the Barbary nations had plundered and looted American ships, demanding tribute from the American government. For years, Jefferson had advocated the use of force against the pirates. And for years, the government had ignored Jefferson and paid off the pirates. Now, as president, Jefferson was determined to fight back. America would not be bullied, Jefferson told Congress: "The style of the demand admitted but one answer. I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean " The Barbary states quickly capitulated. But there were larger battles yet to come.
The banner of the right.
It was a scene from a picture book. Bridges, fields, forests, running rivers. And blood. Puddles of it, everywhere. Bodies strewn across the muddy battleground. The date was September 17, 1862, and as the sun set, 23,000 Americans lay dead or dying at Antietam. The most brutal battle in American history, pitting brother against brother, friend against friend, and value against value, would end in stalemate. The future of freedom -- and of sovereignty -- remained foggy.
Let despots remember the day