Due to recent events, the artifact of focus today is an original 48-Star American flag from our Military Collection. The flag is an intrinsic part of American heritage, representing the unity and cohesion of the territorial spaces of which it encompasses.
Originally boasting only thirteen stars in 1777, additional stars were added with each new territorial gain. In 1912, forty-six stars were present until others were added to represent Arizona and New Mexico.
Two different versions of the 48-Star Flag were created: a staggered arrangement, and a more symmetrical or uniform display featuring six rows of eight stars. The latter was a recommendation by President Taft and ended up being the more common design.
First flown on the 4th of July, 1912, the 48-Star Flag was in use until 1959, when it was replaced by the 49-Star Flag that commemorated the induction of Alaska into statehood.
Flown for a total of forty-seven years, the 48-Star Flag remained an official flag longer than any other in American history - lasting throughout two World Wars, and the service of eight United States Presidents.
PBS, The History of the American Flag
Smithsonian, Three Cheers for Red, White and Blue: Facts About the United States Flag. Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections