THERE are 50 stars on the American flag, representing the 50 states of the USA.
But the United States did not always have 50 states – so how many stars were there originally, and how has this changed over time?
How many stars are on the American flag?
There are 50 white stars on the American flag, all of which are equal in size and have five points each.
They are arranged in a pattern of nine horizontal rows, alternating six and five stars per row, within a blue rectangle in the top left corner of the flag.
The stars represent the 50 United States of America, and each time a new state enters the union, a new star is added on the following July 4.
The flag has had 50 stars since one was added for Hawaii on July 4, 1960, and official designs are afoot for up to 55 stars when new states are welcomed in.
The colours used for the American flag are known as Old Glory, and the design has been the basis for other flags including Chile, Puerto Rico, Liberia, and Malaysia.
"Old Glory" was apparently exclaimed by Captain William Driver, when an American flag was unfurled on his ship in 1831.
The 13 equal horizontal stripes on the flag, which alternate red and white, represent the original states, that were then British colonies.
When did the flag have 38 stars?
Historically, the number of stars on the American flag has reflected the number of united states in the USA.
On July 4, 1877, the 100th anniversary of the American flag, a 38th star was added after Colorado joined on August 1, 1876.
Prior to this, the flag had added just one star at a time since July 4, 1822, as states joined the union one by one.
The flag sported 38 stars for 13 years and five presidencies: Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, and William Henry Harrison.
However, by the time the flag eventually came to add more stars on July 4, 1890, there were five more to add, as North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, and Idaho had all joined the union.
How many stars did the American flag originally have?
The very first American flag did not feature any stars – instead displaying the original Union flag of Great Britain in the top left corner, beside the 13 stripes.
However, the first American flag design to incorporate stars, revealed on June 14, 1777, featured 13 stars.
These represented the 13 states, which were then colonies, that formed the first union.
The states represented by these 13 stars were Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia.
The 13 stars were set in a circle to indicate equality among them.
Legend has it that George Washington took the idea for the stars from the sky – and that the original American flag was sewn by upholsterer Betsy Ross, who made bed hangings for Washington.
There is no official evidence for this, but it is accepted as truth because it is likely – and the original design is now known as the Betsy Ross Flag.
It is thought the first-ever-made American flag no longer exists today.
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