Our Nations Flags During 1775 to 1777

The early American settlers used the British flag as a standard for about two centuries. It was red with a canton composed of the Union Jack. T he Union Jack consists of the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew.

On 2 January 1776, the Grand Union flag was raised at Cambridge, Mass., with George Washington present at the ceremony. The Grand Union flag consists of seven red stripes and six white stripes with the Union Jack in its canton. This is the flag which Benedict Arnold flew on the ships of the first United States Navy at the Battle of Valcour and which he left flying when he had to abandon some of them afire in Onion creek. Such a flag is among those flown daily at Skenesborough Museum.

The Stars and Stripes came into being 14 June 1777 when Congress resolved “that the flag of the United States be 13 stripes alternately red and white, and that the union be 13 stars in a blue field representing a new constellation.”

Early in our history the flag was used mainly by the Navy. The first recognition of the Stars and Stripes by a foreign country occurred 14 February 1778 when John Paul Jones was saluted by French Admiral LaMotte Piquet in Queberon Bay, France. This recognition is immortalized in an oil painting by Edward Moran. A copy is among the pictures of the Navy series “Our Navy in Action” recently presented to Skenesborough Museum.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Times – July 25, 1974