What Are Some U.S. Flag Facts?

The Continental Congress ordered the creation of the official U.S. flag with the Flag Act of June 14, 1777. An interesting fact about the flag is that Captain William Driver inadvertently coined the famous nickname “Old Glory” in 1831 before setting off on a voyage. Another fact involves the early 20th century case of Halter vs. Nebraska, in which the state outlawed U.S. flag representation for commercial uses.

The U.S. flag evolved several times over a 200-year period as more states joined the union. In the original 1777 design, the 13 stars symbolizing the union were to be white on a blue field, representing a “new constellation.” Based on her daughter’s account, Betsy Ross is credited with perfecting the first design by suggesting a rectangular shape, instead of a square, to improve the proportions. She also suggested five-pointed stars to replace the proposed six-pointed version, and she believed the stars should appear in a sensible order, such as a circle or rows, rather than a scattered layout.

When Captain William Driver of Salem, Massachusetts, was departing on a voyage in 1831, friends offered him the then-current 24-star flag as a parting gift. Driver described the flag as “Old Glory” when it unfurled in the breeze over the open ocean, and it was eventually preserved and displayed at the Tennessee capital.

In the late 19th century, lawmakers resented representations of the flag used to promote commercial goods because they seemingly exploited and diminished the value of a national symbol. By 1903, Nebraska outlawed these practices, and in 1905, a bottling company owner was charged for selling beer products bearing flag logos.