American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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American Flag Designs

Design of various flags
Samuel Chester Reid (1883-1861)
Design of various flags and the
"National Cockade . . . As Adopted
by Congress in 1818"

Pen and ink and watercolor drawing,
February 17, 1850
Manuscript Division (26.7)

Samuel Chester Reid was a naval officer and hero of the War of 1812. In 1818 he collaborated with New York Congressman Peter H. Wendover to steer a bill through Congress that established uniformity in the design of the United States flag. Although the number of stripes was congressionally mandated to remain thirteen in 1777, designs varied wildly. Reid suggested that stars be added as new states were admitted into the Union. On the final page of this 1850 letter to his son, Reid drew three other flag designs as well as the image of the "national cockade" or rosette.

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