A Brief History of the Flag of the U.S. Navy
The history of the United States Navy flag dates back to the establishment of the Continental Navy in 1775 during the American Revolutionary War. However, the specific design and features of the flag have evolved over time. Here is a brief history of the US Navy flag:
1. First Naval Ensign: On December 3, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the creation of a naval fleet and adopted the first naval ensign. It featured a white field with a green pine tree in the upper left corner. Below the pine tree was the motto "An Appeal to Heaven." This flag represented the early days of the Continental Navy.
2. First Naval Jack: In 1776, the Continental Congress authorized the use of a naval jack, which was flown from the jackstaff on the bow of naval vessels. The first naval jack featured thirteen alternating red and white stripes along with the rattlesnake and the motto "Don't Tread on Me."
3. 1795-1818: The first official flag of the United States Navy was established by an Act of Congress on April 24, 1794. It featured 16 vertical stripes with a canton of 15 stars in a pattern of three rows. This flag was used until 1818, with the stars incrementally increasing with the addition of new states.
4. 1818-1860: In 1818, a new flag design was adopted, known as the "Naval Service flag." It featured a blue field with 20 stars arranged in a circular pattern. This flag remained in use until 1860 when it was replaced with a design featuring 33 stars arranged in a new pattern.
5. 1860-1916: The flag representing the US Navy from 1860 to 1916 featured a blue field with 35 stars arranged in a pattern known as the "Great Star" or "Thirteen in a Circle." It reflected the increasing number of states in the Union during that time period.
6. 1916-present: In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order establishing the 48-star flag as the official flag of the US Navy. This design remained in use until 1959 when Alaska became the 49th state. The current US Navy flag features a blue field with 50 white stars, representing the 50 states of the United States.