The Little Book of the Flag Part 3

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CHAPTER X

THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER

“Time makes ancient good uncouth,” said Lowell, and so it was with the flag. The flag of fifteen stars and fifteen stripes that was decreed in 1795 then represented each State; but in less than one year it was out of date. Tennessee had come into the Union. Then followed Ohio, Louisiana, and Indiana. Here were four States with no representation in the colors of the country. Then, too, people began to realize that in giving up the thirteen stripes they had lost their old significant “Thirteen,” and dropped a valuable historical a.s.sociation. At length the matter came before Congress, and for nearly sixteen months it remained there. Occasionally there was some little discussion about it. One member proposed that the matter be postponed indefinitely.

“Are you willing to neglect the banner of freedom?” demanded another.

Yet another thought it unnecessary to insist upon thirteen stripes, and thought they might as well fix upon nine or eleven or any other arbitrary number as thirteen. The committee pleaded for the significant thirteen, and so it went on. At length Peter H. Wendover, of New York, through whose efforts Congress was held to its duty, called the attention of the House to the fact that the Government itself was paying no respect to its own laws in regard to the flag; that the law demanded fifteen stripes, but that Congress was at that moment displaying a banner of thirteen stripes; that the navy yard and the marine barracks were flying flags of eighteen stripes; and that during the first session of the preceding Congress the flag floating over their deliberations had had, from some unknown cause or other, only nine stripes.

It is small wonder that after such an arraignment as this the lawmakers aroused themselves. The following bill was pa.s.sed, and was signed by President Monroe, April 4, 1818:–

SECTION 1. _Be it enacted, etc._, That from and after the fourth day of July next, the flag of the United States be thirteen horizontal stripes, alternate red and white; that the union have twenty stars, white in a blue field.

SECTION 2. _Be it further enacted_, That on the admission of every new State into the Union, one star be added to the union of the flag; and that such addition shall take effect on the fourth of July next succeeding such admission.

So it was that the flag of the United States was finally decided upon.

Captain S. C. Reid designed it, and his wife made a specimen flag, which was hoisted on the flagstaff of the House of Representatives a few days after the law legalizing it was pa.s.sed. Forty-one years later, in 1859, Congress formally thanked Captain Reid. The one weak point in this law was that the arrangement of the stars on the blue field was left to the taste of the owner of the flag. Captain Reid arranged them in one large star; but it was evident that if this plan was continued, as new States were admitted, the stars would become too small to be seen distinctly. The Navy Commissioners issued the order that in naval flags the stars should be arranged in five rows, four stars in a row; but for many years merchant vessels paid small attention to this decree. Indeed, in 1837 the Dutch Government inquired, with all respect, “What is the American flag?” Twenty years later an observant man in Jersey City amused himself on the Fourth of July by noting the numerous fashions in which the stars were arranged.

He said that all flags had the thirteen stripes–though not always in the proper order–but that he had counted nine different fashions in which the stars were arranged. They appeared in one large star, in a lozenge, a diamond, or a circle, and one vessel in the river flaunted an anchor formed of stars. It was suggested that Congress ought to order some regular arrangement, but Congress did not take the hint.

The Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy gave orders in 1912, after the admission of New Mexico and Arizona, that the stars, now forty-eight, should be arranged in six rows of eight stars each.

This was approved by the President, but no decree has been pa.s.sed by Congress.

Until 1866 our country’s flag was manufactured in a foreign land.

Bunting in a flag has a hard life. It must meet sun, wind, and storm; it must be light enough to float at every breeze and strong enough to endure severe wear. Attempts had been made many years earlier to make bunting in the United States, and flags of home manufacture had been tried again and again, but they had never stood the tests. In 1865, however, Congress put a duty of forty per cent on imported bunting, and also made it lawful for the Government to purchase its flags in the United States. With this duty manufacturers could compete with the lower wages paid in England, and now it became worth while to set to work in earnest. Within a year the thing had been done. A company in Lowell, Ma.s.sachusetts, presented to the Senate a flag manufactured in the United States. It was hoisted over the Capitol, and for the first time this country, then ninety years old, floated over its Congress a banner of bunting woven and made “at home.” This banner stood all the tests, and soon the price of the material was greatly reduced. Since the manufacture of this flag all bunting used in flags for the navy has come from Lowell. It must be of a fixed weight and strength and must be absolutely fast color in sun and rain. These flags are made in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and they must be accurate in every detail.

Even the number of st.i.tches to the inch is a matter of rule. After the stripes have been sewed together and the stars st.i.tched upon the canton, the hoist, or end of the flag which is to be next to the staff, is firmly bound with canvas, and the lines, etc., attached.

Then the flag is stamped with the date. Many silken flags are used in the navy, but these are made entirely by hand.

A warship must have not only her own flags, but those of foreign countries, sometimes two hundred and fifty or more. Some of these flags are of very complicated design, and the flag-makers tried the experiment of painting the designs on the bunting. This was not a success, because the flags stuck together, and now the whole design is worked out in bunting. The navy makes its own flags, but the War Department buys what are needed. Manufacturers make large numbers for general sale; between nine and ten million a year even in times of peace.

The pet name, “Old Glory,” is believed to have been given to the flag by Captain William Driver. He was born in Salem, Ma.s.sachusetts, became a shipmaster, and at length made his home in Nashville, Tennessee.

When the Civil War broke out, he stood boldly by the Union, even though his own family were against him. More than thirty years before this date, just as he was starting on a voyage, some of his friends made him a present of a handsome American flag. When the breeze first caught it and spread out its folds, Captain Driver exclaimed, “Old Glory!” and “Old Glory” it was to him all the years of his life. The flag went to Tennessee with him, and was hung out on every day of public rejoicing. When the war broke out, his Confederate neighbors tried their best to get possession of that flag; but they did not realize the resources of the old captain. Sailors know how to sew, and he had carefully quilted his beloved banner into his comforter. No wonder that he had not the least objection to having his house searched for it. When the Union troops entered the city, Captain Driver asked permission to run up his flag over the State Capitol.

This was granted, and with an escort he marched to the building and ran up the flag. As he stood gazing at it with tears in his eyes, he said, “I have always said that if I could see it float over that Capitol, I should have lived long enough; now Old Glory is up there, gentlemen, and I am ready to die.” The captain’s own particular “Old Glory” was full of years and weakened by service, and on the following day he reverently took it down and ran up a flag that was new and strong. For a quarter of a century he saw the Union flag float over the Capitol of his chosen State. Then, at his death in 1886, his own “Old Glory” was sent to the Ess.e.x Inst.i.tute at his birthplace.

CHAPTER XI

THE FLAG IN WAR

“Old Glory” has flown over the battle-fields of three wars; the Mexican, the Civil War, and the war with Spain. In the war with Mexico victory depended upon taking the City of Mexico, and the path to that lay in the capture of the strong castle of Chapultepec. Long before sunrise one bright September morning, the American guns began to roar.

All day long the Americans fired from below and the Mexicans from above. Fortunately for the attackers, the aim of the Mexicans was anything but accurate, and in twenty-four hours the American troops were pushing forward up the hillside, through a grove full of sharpshooters, over rocks and gullies, even over mines, which the Mexicans had no chance to set off. Cannon roared and volleys of musketry were fired at the a.s.sailants, but they dashed over the redoubt, up, still up, to the escarpment, and over it they tumbled.

Meanwhile the Mexicans were standing on the city walls and peering out from the spires of the cathedral. They saw, as the Americans pushed on and up, the Stars and Stripes appear, now to the right, now to the left, as point after point was taken. Now the Americans had reached the main works. The scaling-ladders were planted and the men scrambled over the wall. Even then the Mexicans were not without a faint hope, for their banner still floated over the highest pinnacle. Suddenly it disappeared, and the Stars and Stripes took its place. The victory had been won. On the second day after the first gun was fired at Chapultepec, the American troops were following their flag into the City of Mexico.

The Civil War began with the firing upon Fort Sumter. Shot came in a whirlwind, half a score of b.a.l.l.s at a time. The woodwork blazed, the brick and stone flew in all directions. Red-hot b.a.l.l.s from the furnace in Moultrie dashed down like a pitiless hailstorm. The barracks were ablaze, streams of fire burst out of the quarters. Ninety barrels of powder were rolled into the water lest it should explode in the awful heat. The men were stifled with fumes from the burning buildings. Over the horrors of this attack the Stars and Stripes floated serenely from the staff, flashing out, as each gust of wind tossed the clouds of smoke aside for a moment, the glories of the red, white, and blue, clear and calm and unscathed.

Beams fell with a crash, ammunition in one magazine exploded, black clouds of smoke filled the fort, and for hours the men covered their faces with wet cloths to keep from suffocating. Nine times the flagstaff was struck by a shot, and at the ninth the flag fell.

Lieutenant Hall dashed into the storm of b.a.l.l.s, caught up the flag, and brought it away. The halyards were cut and tangled. The flag could not be raised, but it was nailed to the staff, and in the midst of the incessant fire, Sergeant Peter Hart fastened it up on the ramparts.

The fort surrendered, but not the flag; for as Major Anderson and his men left the burning ruins, they saluted “Old Glory” with fifty guns, then lowered it, and, as the Major stated to the Government, “marched out of the fort with colors flying and drums beating.”

This was on April 14, 1861. On April 14, 1865, when the war was virtually over, Major Anderson, now General Anderson, was, by order of President Lincoln, called to Fort Sumter to raise again the flag which he had so unwillingly lowered. A special steamer carried from New York to the fort a number of prominent citizens. Hundreds came from elsewhere by land to Charleston and were taken to the fort by vessel.

Two hundred officers of the navy were present and many army officers.

After the opening exercises, Sergeant Hart opened a big carpetbag and drew forth the identical flag that had been hauled down four years earlier. The banner was unfurled, the a.s.semblage cheered to the echo, and slowly the beloved banner rose to its old position, every one trying his best to catch hold of the rope and help raise it. Hats were waved and the old fort rang with cheers. The band struck up “The Star-Spangled Banner.” A salute was fired by the guns on Fort Sumter, and this was responded to by every fort and battery that had fired upon Sumter in April, 1861. Henry Ward Beecher, orator of the day, made a thrilling address. Of the flag he said:–

There flies the same flag that was insulted. In the storm of that a.s.sault this glorious ensign was often struck; but, memorable fact, not one of its stars was torn out, by shot or sh.e.l.l. It was a prophecy…. Lifted to the air, to-day it proclaims, after four years of war, “Not a State is blotted out!”

Hail to the flag of our fathers, and our flag! Glory to the banner that has gone through four years black with tempests of war, to pilot the nation back to peace without dismemberment!

And glory be to G.o.d, who, above all hosts and banners, hath ordained victory, and shall ordain peace!… In the name of G.o.d, we lift up our banner, and dedicate it to Peace, Union and Liberty, now and forevermore.

A few years later General Anderson died. He was buried at West Point and was carried to his grave wrapped in the flag that he had defended so bravely. On the death of his wife the flag pa.s.sed by her gift into the hands of the War Department.

One of the most interesting flags of the recent war with Spain was borne by the First Regiment of the United States Volunteer Cavalry. A squadron of men for this regiment left Phnix, Arizona, on their way to the field of war. It was noticed that they had no flag. The women of the Relief Corps attached to the Grand Army of the Republic took the matter in hand, for if this was not a case where relief was needed, where should one be found?

Night and day were the same to these energetic women. They bought silk and they sewed, all day and all night. The stores of Phnix did not provide just the right sort of cord, so the staff of the battle-flag was daintily adorned with a knot of satin ribbon, red, white, and blue. Then the flag was carried to camp, and presented with all courtesy and dignity to the two hundred men who were to form a part of the First Regiment of the United States Volunteer Cavalry, better known as the “Rough Riders.”

The little silken flag came to glories that it had not dreamed of, for the regular bunting flags were scarce, and therefore it held the most prominent place in parades and was even set up as guest of honor before the tent of Colonel Leonard Wood. In the attack on Santiago, the little party that first landed at Daiquiri, a small town on the coast a few miles from the city, carried the flag with them. On a transport in the harbor an officer from Arizona, observing the troops climb the hill, had seen the raising of the flag and discovered with a gla.s.s what it was. As the story is told:–

He threw his hat to the deck, jumped to the top of the bulwark, and yelled: “Howl, you Arizona men,–it’s our flag up there!”

And the men howled as only Arizona cowboys could. Some one on the hurricane deck grabbed the whistle cord and tied it down, the band of the Second Infantry whisked up instruments and played “A Hot Time” on the inspiration of the moment, and every man who had a revolver emptied it over the side. Almost in an instant every whistle of the fifty transports and supply vessels in the harbor took up the note of rejoicing. Twenty thousand men were cheering. A dozen bands increased the din. Then guns of the warships on the flanks joined in a mighty salute to the flag of the Nation. And the flag was the flag of the Arizona squadron.

The Arizona flag led the regiment in the fight of Las Guasimas, where three thousand intrenched Spaniards were driven back by nine hundred unmounted cavalry; it was at the front all through the heat of the battles of Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill; it waved over the trenches before Santiago, and was later borne through the captured city to the transport.

CHAPTER XII

THE FLAG IN PEACE

One of the greatest achievements of our flag in peace was the opening of j.a.pan. In 1852 Commodore M. C. Perry was sent with a letter from President Fillmore to prepare the way for a treaty of peace and friendship and commerce with j.a.pan. Its delivery was a matter of much ceremony. After a long delay a day was set for its reception. When the time had come, the officers in full uniform, the marines in blue and white, the sailors in navy blue and tarpaulins, and last of all the Commodore entered the boats. As the Commodore stepped into his barge, a salute of thirteen guns was given. Then the two bands struck up lively tunes and the boats made for the sh.o.r.e.

Along the beach were ranged nine tall crimson standards, surrounded by flags of all sorts and colors. Five or six thousand soldiers were drawn up in line, and the hills behind them were crowded with people.

When the Americans came to land, a procession was formed. First, the marines and sailors, then the one flag of the procession, the Stars and Stripes, its brilliant colors flashing in the bright sunshine. It was borne by the two tallest, broadest-shouldered men among the sailors of the squadron. After the flag came two of the younger men, carrying a rosewood box mounted with gold and carefully wrapped in a scarlet cloth. In this were the credentials of the Commodore and the letter of the President. These were written on vellum, and the seals were attached by cords of silk and gold, ending in ta.s.sels of gold.

Then came the Commodore, and on either side of him was a tall negro of fine proportions and armed to the teeth. After the Commodore walked the officers of the squadron. Commodore and officers were escorted into the handsomely decorated hall of reception. The court interpreter asked if the letter was ready. The two pages, guarded by the two stalwart negroes, were summoned and placed the letter upon a handsome box of red lacquer, which was ready to receive them. The Commodore made a formal bow. The bands played our national airs, and all returned to the vessels as ceremoniously as they had come.

This was the beginning of intercourse between the United States and j.a.pan. Two years later a treaty was signed, and in 1860 an emba.s.sy from j.a.pan visited this country.

So it was that j.a.pan was opened to the world. In 1901 the j.a.panese Minister of Justice said: “Commodore Perry’s visit was, in a word, the turn of the key which opened the doors of the j.a.panese Empire. j.a.pan has not forgotten–nor will she ever forget–that, next to her reigning and most beloved sovereign, whose rare virtue and great wisdom is above all praise, she owes her present state of prosperity to the United States of America.” “Are you coming over here to fight us?” a young j.a.panese in this country was playfully asked. “Fight the United States?” he exclaimed. “The United States is our friend.” And drawing himself up to his full height, he said proudly, “The j.a.panese do not forget. We know what your Commodore Perry and your country have done for us.”

The American flag was first seen in China in 1784. The Chinese said it was “as beautiful as a flower,” and for many years they always spoke of it as the “flower flag.”

A custom of great significance and value, that of raising the home flag over legations and consulates in foreign lands whenever a home holiday comes around, is due to the tact and ready wit of one of our Ministers to Sweden, William W. Thomas, Jr. The following is his own account of the event:–

On taking possession of the archives and property of the United States at Stockholm, I was surprised to find there was no American flag there. Talking with my colleagues, the Ministers of other countries, I was informed that no foreign Minister at Stockholm ever hoisted his country’s flag, and that to do so would be considered a breach of diplomatic etiquette.

What was I to do? I did not wish to offend my good friends, the Swedes; that was the last thing a Minister should be guilty of.

And I certainly did not want to see an American holiday go by without hoisting the American flag from the American Legation.

The question troubled me a great deal.

The Little Book of the Flag Part 7

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MAKERS OF THE FLAG

FRANKLIN K. LANE

[A portion of an address delivered by the Secretary of the Interior to the employees of the Department of the Interior, on Flag Day, 1914.]

This morning as I pa.s.sed into the Land Office, The Flag dropped me a most cordial salutation, and from its rippling folds I heard it say: “Good-morning Mr. Flag Maker.”

“I beg your pardon, Old Glory,” I said, “aren’t you mistaken? I am not the President of the United States, nor a member of Congress, nor even a general in the army. I am only a Government clerk.”

“I greet you again, Mr. Flag Maker,” replied the gay voice; “I know you well. You are the man who worked in the swelter of yesterday straightening out the tangle of that farmer’s homestead in Idaho, or perhaps you found the mistake in that Indian contract in Oklahoma, or helped to clear that patent for the hopeful inventor in New York, or pushed the opening of that new ditch in Colorado, or made that mine in Illinois more safe, or brought relief to the old soldier in Wyoming.

No matter; whichever one of these beneficient individuals you may happen to be, I give you greeting, Mr. Flag Maker.”

I was about to pa.s.s on, when The Flag stopped me with these words:–

“Yesterday the President spoke a word that made happier the future of ten million peons in Mexico; but that act looms no larger on the flag than the struggle which the boy in Georgia is making to win the Corn Club prize this summer.

“Yesterday the Congress spoke a word which will open the door of Alaska; but a mother in Michigan worked from sunrise until far into the night, to give her boy an education. She, too, is making the flag.

“Yesterday we made a new law to prevent financial panics, and yesterday, maybe, a school teacher in Ohio taught his first letters to a boy who will one day write a song that will give cheer to the millions of our race. We are all making the flag.”

“But,” I said impatiently, “these people were only working!”

Then came a great shout from The Flag:–

“The work that we do is the making of the flag.

“I am not the flag; not at all. I am nothing more than its shadow.

“I am whatever you make me, nothing more.

“I am your belief in yourself, your dream of what a People may become.

“I live a changing life, a life of moods and pa.s.sions, of heart breaks and tired muscles.

“Sometimes I am strong with pride, when workmen do an honest piece of work, fitting the rails together truly.

“Sometimes I droop, for then purpose has gone from me, and cynically I play the coward.

“Sometimes I am loud, garish, and full of that ego that blasts judgment.

“But always, I am all that you hope to be, and have the courage to try for.

“I am song and fear, struggle and panic, and enn.o.bling hope.

“I am the day’s work of the weakest man, and the largest dream of the most daring.

“I am the Const.i.tution and the courts, statutes and the statute makers, soldier and dreadnaught, drayman and street sweep, cook, counselor, and clerk.

“I am the battle of yesterday, and the mistake of to-morrow.

“I am the mystery of the men who do without knowing why.

“I am the clutch of an idea, and the reasoned purpose of resolution.

“I am no more than what you believe me to be, and I am all that you believe I can be.

“I am what you make me, nothing more.

“I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself, the pictured suggestion of that big thing which makes this nation. My stars and my stripes are your dream and your labors. They are bright with cheer, brilliant with courage, firm with faith, because you have made them so out of your hearts. For you are the makers of the flag and it is well that you glory in the making.”

OUR FLAG

MARGARET SANGSTER

Flag of the fearless-hearted, Flag of the broken chain, Flag in a day-dawn started, Never to pale or wane.

Dearly we prize its colors, With the heaven light breaking through, The cl.u.s.tered stars and the steadfast bars, The red, the white, and the blue.

Flag of the st.u.r.dy fathers, Flag of the royal sons, Beneath its folds it gathers Earth’s best and n.o.blest ones.

Boldly we wave its colors, Our veins are thrilled anew By the steadfast bars, the cl.u.s.tered stars, The red, the white, and the blue.

OUR HISTORY AND OUR FLAG[1]

WILLIAM BACKUS GUITTEAU

Love of country is a sentiment common to all peoples and ages; but no land has ever been dearer to its people than our own America. No nation has a history more inspiring, no country has inst.i.tutions more deserving of patriotic love. Turning the pages of our nation’s history, the young citizen sees Columbus, serene in the faith of his dream; the Mayflower, bearing the lofty soul of the Puritan; Washington girding on his holy sword; Lincoln, striking the shackles from the helpless slave; the const.i.tution, organizing the farthest west with north and south and east into one great Republic; the tremendous energy of free life trained in free schools, utilizing our immense natural resources, increasing the nation’s wealth with the aid of advancing science, multiplying fertile fields and n.o.ble workshops, and busy schools and happy homes.

This is the history for which our flag stands; and when the young citizen salutes the flag, he should think of the great ideals which it represents. The flag stands for democracy, for liberty under the law; it stands for heroic courage and self-reliance, for equality of opportunity, for self-sacrifice and the cause of humanity; it stands for free public education, and for peace among all nations. When you salute the flag, you should resolve that your own life will be dedicated to these ideals. You should remember that he is the truest American patriot who understands the meaning of our nation’s ideals, and who pledges his own life to their realization.

[Footnote 1: From _Preparing for Citizenship_. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1913, 1915.]

THE AMERICAN FLAG

JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE

Flag of the free heart’s hope and home!

By angel hands to valor given; Thy stars have lit the welkin dome, And all thy hues were born in heaven.

Forever float that standard sheet!

Where breathes the foe but falls before us, With Freedom’s soil beneath our feet, And Freedom’s banner streaming o’er us?

THE FLAG OF OUR COUNTRY

ROBERT C. WINTHROP

There is the national flag. He must be cold indeed who can look upon its folds, rippling in the breeze, without pride of country. If he be in a foreign land, the flag is companionship and country itself, with all its endearments. Its highest beauty is in what it symbolizes. It is because it represents all, that all gaze at it with delight and reverence.

The Little Book of the Flag Part 4

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All at once a thought seized me, like an inspiration. I sent to America for a flag. I procured flagstaff and halyards, and from my own drawings I had carved an American eagle, which was gilded and perched on top of the flag pole. Flag, eagle, and staff I concealed in the Legation, and bided my time.

Undoubtedly the greatest character Sweden has ever produced is Gustavus Adolphus. His life and deeds belong not to Sweden along, but to the world. Well, when the anniversary of the death and victory of this great captain of the Swedish host came round,–the 6th of November, 1883,–and when the great choral societies of Stockholm, bearing banners and followed by vast mult.i.tudes of the Swedish populace, marched through the streets of Sweden’s capital, and gathered about the mausoleum on the Island of Knights, where lies the mighty dead, sang paeans in his praise, then it happened, somehow, that, regardless of precedent or custom, the flag of the free republic–aye! flag, flagstaff, golden eagle, and all–was run out from the American Legation; and the starry banner of America waved in unison with the yellow cross of Sweden, in honor of the mightiest warrior for the freedom of our faith.

This act was everywhere approved in Sweden. It was praised by both the people and the press. After this, it may well be believed, the flag of America floated unchallenged in the capital of the Northland. It waved on high on the birthday of Washington, on that Memorial Day when we decorate the graves of our brave boys in blue who saved the Union, and on the Fourth of July, that gave the Republic birth. But I hoisted our flag impartially, on Swedish holidays as well as our own; and the Stars and Stripes floated out as proudly on the birthday of King Oscar as on that of Washington.

“If any man attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot,” commanded General Dix; but the United States may well be proud of having herself hauled down her flag on one occasion not many years ago.

After the Spanish-American War had been fought, the treaty of peace with Spain put Cuba into the hands of the United States, and the star-spangled banner was raised and saluted. This was in 1899. The three years following this act were busy ones with the War Department, for in its control was left the management of all Cuban affairs. Cuba was cleaned up, the yellow fever stamped out, schools were established, peace restored, a const.i.tution adopted by the people, and a president elected. May 20, 1902, was the date set for the sovereignty of Cuba to pa.s.s into the hands of the Cubans. The island had been made free, and now she was coming to her own. Havana was in her best. Flags floated from every house. Ships displayed both the American and the Cuban flags.

When the moment arrived, General Leonard Wood read the transfer, and the President-elect signed it in the name of the new Republic. To free Cuba from oppression the United States had entered into war. Our country sought nothing for itself, and now the freedom of the island was attained, and the American forces were to be withdrawn.

After the signing of the transfer Governor-General Wood loosened the halyards and the star-spangled banner was lowered, having accomplished n.o.bly that for which it had been raised. As it sank slowly down the Union salute of forty-five guns was fired. Then, by the hands of General Wood, the Cuban flag was hoisted to its position and floated proudly over a free country. A national salute of twenty-one guns was fired in its honor, and the history of the Cuban Republic had begun.

As the _New York Sun_ said, “No country ever before conquered a territory at great sacrifice to set up a government other than its own.”

In the hands of Admiral Robert E. Peary our flag has won the honors of the Northland. Many others had gone _far_ north; for Peary it was reserved to go _farthest_ north, to the Pole itself. This was no chance success, brought about by fine equipment and favorable weather; it was the fair result of careful preparation and hard work. The Admiral wrote in his journal:–

The Pole at last! The prize of three centuries, my dream and goal for twenty years, mine at last! I cannot bring myself to realize it.

It all seems so simple and commonplace. As Bartlett said when turning back, when speaking of his being in these exclusive regions, which no mortal had ever penetrated before, “It is just like every day!”

A little later, in acknowledging with grat.i.tude the generous aid which he had received, the Admiral wrote:–

Their a.s.sistance has enabled me to tell the last of the great earth stories, the story the world has been waiting to hear for three hundred years–the story of the discovery of the North Pole.

Such is the history of the flag of the United States of America from the time when a little group of colonies dared to raise their own standard and oppose their feeble strength and their slender resources to the trained armies and the ample wealth of England.

This was a century and a half ago. The Republic has come of age and has accepted her rightful share of the responsibilities of the world. The mother country rejoiced to do her honor, and on one brilliant April morning in 1917 the cities of England flung out her banner beside their own. In London the Stars and Stripes were everywhere–in the hands of the people in the streets, on private houses, on public buildings, even on the “Victory Tower” of Westminster Palace, where before that day no other flag save the Union Jack or the royal standard had ever been raised. In the historic cathedral of St. Paul four thousand people had come together to thank G.o.d for the alliance between the mother country and her eldest child, that in this war of the world “they should go forth and try the matter in fight by the help of G.o.d”–to quote the text of the Bishop of London. The two flags, of Great Britain and of the United States of America, hung side by side over the chancel rail. The thousands of people rose with reverence and sang, first, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and then, “G.o.d Save the King.” And so it was that Great Britain and the United States took their stand shoulder to shoulder in the world-wide struggle to make sure “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

CHAPTER XIII

HOW TO BEHAVE TOWARD THE FLAG

Except the cross there is nothing that the American should hold more sacred than the flag of the United States, because of its record in peace and in war, and because it stands for the rights and the freedom of one hundred million citizens.

“Sign of a nation great and strong, To ward her people from foreign wrong.”

There are definite rules in regard to the use of the flag. The following are the most necessary to know:–

The flag should be raised at sunrise and lowered at sunset. It should not be left out at night unless under fire. It should not be allowed to touch the ground. If possible, a pole rather than a staff should be used.

In raising a flag to half-mast or half-staff, it should be run to the top of the pole, and then lowered the width of the flag. Before being retired, it should be run to the top again. On Memorial Day the flag should be at half-mast until noon, and at the peak from noon until sunset.

When the flag goes by, rise if you are sitting; halt if you are walking, and take off your hat.

In decorating, never drape the flag; always hang it flat. The Union should be at the observer’s left, whether the stripes are perpendicular or horizontal. If our flag is crossed with the flags of other countries, or carried in a parade beside them, it should always be at the right.

In unveiling a monument, the flag should never be allowed to drop to the ground, but so arranged that it can be drawn up and will then float over the monument.

If draped over a casket, the blue field should be at the head. If used as the covering of an altar, nothing except the Bible should be placed upon it, and the union should be at the right.

Distress at sea is indicated by hanging the flag union down.

Always stand when “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played.

For those people who, whether maliciously or ignorantly, show any disrespect to the flag, strenuous laws have been pa.s.sed in most of the States. In Ma.s.sachusetts, a post of the Grand Army or a camp of Spanish War veterans may put the name of the organization upon the flag, but no other lettering is permitted. Any one who mutilates the flag or in any way treats it with contempt is likely to fare worse than did John Endicott in colonial days. The same respect is required to be shown to the flags of all countries with which the United States is at peace.

The representation of the flag must not be used to advertise merchandise, but it may be used on any publication designed to give information about the flag, or to promote patriotism, or to encourage the study of American history.

June 14, the anniversary of the day in 1777 on which the flag was adopted, has been chosen as “Flag Day.”

The length of a flag should be very nearly twice its height, or, to be exact, in the proportion of 1.9 to 1. The length of the union should be three fourths the height of the whole flag; the height of the union should be that of seven stripes.

Perhaps a little fancifully, a star has been a.s.signed to each State in the order of its ratification of the Const.i.tution and admission to the Union. Beginning at the left upper corner and reading each row from left to right, the stars of the separate States are as follows:–

_First row_

Delaware December 7, 1787 Pennsylvania December 12, 1787 New Jersey December 18, 1787 Georgia January 2, 1788 Connecticut January 9, 1788 Ma.s.sachusetts February 6, 1788 Maryland April 28, 1788 South Carolina May 23, 1788

_Second row_

New Hampshire June 21, 1788 Virginia June 25, 1788 New York July 26, 1788 North Carolina November 21, 1789 Rhode Island May 29, 1790 Vermont March 4, 1791 Kentucky June 1, 1792 Tennessee June 1, 1796

_Third row_

Ohio February 19, 1803 Louisiana April 30, 1812 Indiana December 11, 1816 Mississippi December 10, 1817 Illinois December 3, 1818 Alabama December 14, 1819 Maine March 15, 1820 Missouri August 10, 1821

_Fourth row_

Arkansas June 15, 1836 Michigan January 26, 1837 Florida March 3, 1845 Texas December 29, 1845 Iowa December 28, 1846 Wisconsin May 29, 1848 California September 9, 1850 Minnesota May 11, 1858

_Fifth row_

Oregon February 14, 1859 Kansas January 29, 1861 West Virginia June 19, 1863 Nevada October 31, 1864 Nebraska March 1, 1867 Colorado August 1, 1876 North Dakota November 2, 1889 South Dakota November 2, 1889

_Sixth row_

Montana November 8, 1889 Washington November 11, 1889 Idaho July 3, 1890 Wyoming July 10, 1890 Utah January 4, 1896 Oklahoma November 16, 1907 New Mexico January 6, 1912 Arizona February 14, 1912