Happy Flag Day!
On June 14th, 1777, the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the flag of the United States flag. Back then, the flag had 13 stripes, and 13 stars, for the 13 colonies that made up the United States.
Today, our flag still has the original 13 stripes, but as the country grew, and new states were added to the union, new stars have been added. Now, of course there are 50 stars, that represent each of the 50 states!
School children and patriotic groups began celebrating flag day in 1880’s. President Woodrow Wilson officially declared June 14th to be Flag Day in 1916. Then, in 1949, an act of Congress was passed that officially made June 14th National Flag Day.
In honor of flag day, I thought I would share with you a very grand flag in the collection of CCHS, that has 34 stars! This flag flew on the steamboat Oregon, which sailed up and down the Hudson River. The flag was sewn by Sarah and Clara Clark. Their father, William H. Clark, owned the steamboat Oregon.
34 star flags were not around for very long! The 34th star was added to the flag on July 4, 1861, after Kansas became a state on January 29, 1861. Then, on June 20, 1863, West Virginia was added to the union, and a 35th star was added on July 3, 1863. That means that 34 star flags were only around for two years!
This particular 34 star flag probably flew over the steamboat Oregon on September 5, 1862. That evening, the Oregon took the young men of the 128th New York Volunteer Infantry (who were from Columbia and Dutchess Counties) down to New York City. The regiment was headed south to fight in the Civil War.
The flag will be on view this summer and fall, as part of the exhibition “A Civil War Panorama: Columbia County 1860-1865” at the Columbia County Museum.
It is amazing what stories a flag can tell!