Flag of the United States

   The flag of the United States, called the Stars and Stripes, originated during the Revolutionary War and was one of the first emblems to symbolize the nationhood of a people. Although Betsy Ross is credited with designing the flag, it is more likely that it was designed by Francis Hopkinson, a member of the Continental Congress; Betsy Ross was only the seamstress. The original flag, with 13 stripes and 13 five-pointed stars, was adopted in 1777. From 1795 to 1818 the official flag of the United States contained 15 stars and 15 stripes, the two extra stripes having been added for Vermont and Kentucky, the first new states to be admitted to the Union. It was this 15-stripe flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner." In 1818 Congress adopted the plan of keeping the 13 stripes and adding to the number of stars as new states joined the Union. The 49th and 50th stars were added July 4, 1959, and July 4, 1960, for the new states of Alaska and Hawaii. The flag has officially been changed 27 times since 1777. The exact proportions for the flag were established by Woodrow Wilson in an executive order in 1916.