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

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Thirty-Six Star Flag

Thirty-Six Star United States Flag
Thirty-Six Star United States Flag

Color woodcut on linen,
between 1865-1867
Prints & Photographs Division (2.12)

One can imagine that this American flag printed as a color woodcut on linen, celebrates the spirit of reunification in the heady days after the Civil War. It was created between the time in which Nevada became the thirty-sixth state on October 31, 1864, and the addition of Nebraska to the United States on March 1, 1867.

Although the Continental Congress passed a resolution that the flag consist of alternating red and white stripes and white stars on a blue ground on June 14, 1777, these design elements were used in a variety of permutations until 1912, when an executive order was issued that established the flag's current proportions. The thirteen red-and-white stripes represent the original thirteen colonies of Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, and the white stars stand for the states of the union. Throughout its history the flag has remained one of America's most powerful national symbols.

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