September 9, California Statehood Day; Golden Staters, fly your flags!

September 8, 2014

U.S. Flag Code guidelines list specific days Americans should fly U.S. flags, and generically, urges people in states to fly flags on their state’s day of achieving statehood.

It’s fun to read through the list of statehood dates and ponder just how such a date is calculated (consider the first 13 colonies and their becoming states); but however it was calculated, September 9 is California’s day.

U.S. and California flags flying from the same flagpole.

U.S. and California flags flying from the same flagpole.

Fly your flags, California.

3-cent stamp honoring California's statehood centennial, in 1950.  Image from Rockhounds.com

3-cent stamp honoring California’s statehood centennial, in 1950. Image from Rockhounds.com

California was the 31st state admitted; 31-star flags were in use until Minnesota’s statehood in 1858.  Here’s a unique design on the 31-star motif:

31-start flag with stars arranged in

31-star flag with stars arranged in “Great Star” constellation suggested by War of 1812 Navy hero Samuel Reid, a wearer of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Reid urged 13 stripes instead of 15, which Congress accepted; but he also urged the Great Star design, which was not accepted. Placement of stars in the field remained unencumbered by rules until the Eisenhower administration. Photo from Jeff R. Bridgman Antiques.


Fly your flag on Valentine’s Day 2014? Okay in Oregon and Arizona

February 14, 2014

Some wag e-mailed to ask about flying the flag for Valentine’s Day.

Reverse of Oregon quarter

Oregon entered as the 33rd state in 1859 – this is the Oregon commemorative quarter-dollar coin.

Legally, nothing stops a resident from flying the U.S. flag following protocol on any day.  So the short answer is, yes, you may fly your U.S. flag on Valentine’s Day.

The Flag Code urges flying the flag on the day a state achieved statehood, too.

So for Oregon and Arizona, there is an expectation that residents will fly their flags.  Oregon came into the union on February 14, 1859; Arizona joined the Republic as a state in 1912.

Taft signs Arizona statehood papers, February 14, 1912

President William Howard Taft signed the papers accepting Arizona into statehood, on February 14, 1912. He still finished third behind Democrat Woodrow Wilson and Bullmoose Party’s Teddy Roosevelt in that fall’s elections. Photo found at Mrs. Convir’s page, Balboa Magnet School  (Can you identify others in the photo?  Who is the young man?)

For 2014, Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkeley posted an appropriate photo and meditation on Oregon at his Facebook site:

Jeff Merkley's caption:  Protected by President Teddy Roosevelt, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, formed in the caldera of Mount Mazama, a volcano that collapsed nearly 8000 years ago. It's a must-see for every Oregonian - and every American!

Jeff Merkley’s caption: Protected by President Teddy Roosevelt, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, formed in the caldera of Mount Mazama, a volcano that collapsed nearly 8000 years ago. It’s a must-see for every Oregonian – and every American!

More:

Some of this material was borrowed, with express permission, from last year’s post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.


Flying your U.S. flag for Utah’s statehood? Don’t make this error, and fly it backwards!

January 4, 2014

Last year I discovered Holly Munson’s write up from the Constitution Center about Utah’s perhaps odd path to statehood, certainly complementary to my reminder that you could fly your flags on January 4, to honor Utah’s statehood, under the U.S. Flag Code.  Munson’s piece was distributed on Yahoo! News.

Her report is very solid, even though brief.  Utah history is nothing if not a convoluted path to statehood through what amounted to a civil war, the Mexican War, the discovery of gold in California, the transcontinental railroads, mining and immigration, Indian wars, old west shootouts, rampant environmental destruction with sheep grazing and mineral extraction and smelting, union strife, astonishing agricultural applications, and a lot of books written from tens of thousands of Mormon pioneer journals — Mormonism appears to be impossible without ink and paper and time to write.

Go read her story.

What caught my eye was the George W. Reed photograph of the Salt Lake City Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the LDS, or Mormon church.  The Temple and the Tabernacle, also in the photo, both have their own unique architectural histories, and quirks that make them noteworthy purely from an architectural-historical view.  (This George W. Reed should not be confused with the Civil War Medal of Honor winner, George W. Reed)

Reed was an early photographer for newspapers in Salt Lake City, and he took some wonderful photos for posterity.  He was also a founder of the leading non-Mormon paper in the state, The Salt Lake Tribune.  At points in its history, it’s been known as an anti-Mormon paper.  The University of Utah’s library holds about five dozen of his photos in their collection, indexed electronically if not quite available yet; there Reed is described:

A pioneer in the development of Utah newspapers, George Reed was originally employed by the Deseret News and in 1871 helped in establishing the Salt Lake Tribune. His photographs include nineteenth century views of Salt Lake City, individuals at Reed’s Avenue home, Wasatch Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and a photograph of the American flag hung on the Salt Lake Temple in 1896 to commemorate Utah’s statehood.

In the collection of Utah State University, in Logan, Reed has yet more papers.  There we get a bit more of his history:

A pioneer in Utah journalism, George W. Reed was born in London, England, on April 7, 1833. He emigrated to Utah in 1862 and became manager of the Deseret News, a position he held until 1871 when he founded the Salt Lake Tribune. In 1882, after a decade at the Tribune, Reed sold his interest in the paper to P. H. Lannan. He married Elizabeth Tuddenham in 1866 and passed away December 1, 1909.

U.S. flag on the Mormon Temple, at Utah statehood in 1896

The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, draped with a U.S. flag in 1896, commemorating the completion of Utah’s statehood campaign when President Grover Cleveland declared Utah a member of the Union. Photo by George W. Reed; Reed worked for the Deseret News, and helped found the Salt Lake Tribune. I do not know whether this photo was published in either paper.  From the George W. Reed Collection, University of Utah Libraries.

Yes, you’re right!  That flag is backwards.  Well, it’s backwards according to the modern U.S. Flag Code, which specifies that when hung from a building, the flag’s union should always be in the viewer’s upper left corner (“northwest” corner were it a standard map).  In the photograph, the union is in the opposite corner.  No, we know the photo is not reversed, because it accurately portrays the location of the Tabernacle, to the west and slightly south of the Temple.

But we hear the protests:  The U.S. Flag Code did not exist in 1896!  How can that be a violation of a code that did not exist?

That’s right, too.

That is an indication that the traditions of flag display that some people get riled up about, that many people think we should amend the Constitution to protect, are new inventions more than old traditions.  Flag code violations are legion by well-meaning citizens celebrating the flag and patriotism, and rare by anyone with any malignant motives.

After a 49-year fight for statehood, through wars with the U.S., fighting with the U.S. forces in Mexico, the administrations of several presidents and 25 different U.S. Congresses, and pledges to change the rules of the church to ban polygamy and put that ban in the state constitution,  the people of Utah, especially the Mormon officials, were not trying to insult America by displaying the flag incorrectly.  Somebody said ‘fly the flag from the Temple,’ and some engineer or custodian got it done.  By 1896, most of the First Amendment litigation done in the U.S. had involved whether Mormons could keep their marriage policies (Mormons lost).  There was no intent to violate any rule of separation of church and state — nor would that be considered a violation today.  Churches may fly the nation’s flag with all the approval that suggests; it’s the government which may not fly a church’s flag.

Finally, there is no grand story in the flag’s being flown backwards.  It’s just one of those historical footnotes that mark the changing mores of the times, in this case, for standards of how to fly the U.S. flag.

Perhaps Utah history textbooks should make note of the day the U.S. flag was flown, backwards, to honor statehood.

More, and related resources:

Oh, yes! This is an encore post, too. We’re in the business of remembering history around here.


Fly your flag today for Utah statehood, January 4, 1896

January 4, 2014

Utah Capitol, with flags

South entrance (main) to the Utah State Capitol, with U.S. and Utah flags flying on the single flag poll, and the snow-dusted Wasatch Mountains in the background. Utah State Law Library photo.

Utah joined the Union on January 4, 1896.  It had been a 49-year slog to statehood for Deseret, the Mormon settlement in the Desert.  The size had been pared down, so it would not be the biggest state, incorporating parts of what is now Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico.  New capitals had been tried and cast aside (Fillmore, Utah).  Democratic Party rule was broken when LDS church authorities went door-to-door, calling every other family to the Republican Party, and party parity.  The Mormon Church abandoned polygamy, and adopted a state constitution that gave the vote to women.

Finally, Utah became the 45th state.

You may fly your U.S. flag today for Utah statehood, especially if you’re in Utah.

Happy birthday, Utah!  118 years old today.

More:

U.S. flag in Capitol Reef NP

U.S. flag flying at Capitol Reef National Park, in Utah. Photo by longyang0369, via Flickr

Much of this material appeared here before; this is an annual event, after all.


Iowans, fly your flags today: Iowa Statehood, December 28, 1846

December 28, 2013

Iowans may fly their flags today in celebration of the anniversary of Iowa statehood.  Iowa’s admission to the Union came on December 28, 1846; Iowa was the 29th state admitted.

The Flag Code, 4 USC §6 (d), notes that the U.S. flag may be flown on “the birthdays of States (date of admission),” in addition to the other score of dates specifically written into law.

Randy Olson photo of flags at rodeo in Spencer, Iowa, 1996

American Flag, Spencer, Iowa, 1996caption from the National Geographic Society: A man rolls up U.S. flags at the end of the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa. “Although the population of Spencer is only about 12,000, the fair draws some 300,000 visitors. Once a year, rising from the endless flatness of the Iowa countryside, a crowd forms—to stroll, to hear big country music acts like the Statler Brothers, to sell a grand champion boar, to buy a new silo.” (Photographed on assignment for, but not published in, “County Fairs,” October 1997, National Geographic magazine) Photograph by Randy Olson; copyright National Geographic Society

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Fly your flags on August 1 in Colorado: Statehood day

August 1, 2013

August 1 is the anniversary of the day in 1876 when Colorado was proclaimed a member of the union, the 38th state in the United States.

U.S. and Colorado flags flutter from the same flagpole.  Denver Library image

U.S. and Colorado flags flutter from the same flagpole. Denver Library image

According to Colorado newspaperman and politician Jerry Koppel, Colorado’s path to statehood started in 1864, in an attempt to get another Republican state to boost Abraham Lincoln’s re-election chances.  Coloradans rejected the proposed constitution in a plebiscite, however, which pushed the effort into the next Lincoln administration — which, sadly, a month into Lincoln’s new term, became the Andrew Johnson administration.

High politics:  Colorado’s path to statehood was not straight.  While Colorado was not frustrated so often nor so long as Utah, proposed laws to bring the state into the union were vetoed twice by President Andrew Johnson.  History from the Andrew Johnson National Historical Site in Greenville, Tennessee:

Colorado Statehood

First Veto:

1. There was such a small population in the area, Johnson felt Colorado would fare better as a territory without the added taxation of statehood.

2. Also due to the small population, Colorado would have only one representative to speak for the people in Congress. (New York, on the other hand, had thirty-one).

3. Johnson felt the citizens of Colorado were not prepared for, and not all wanted, statehood. Johnson wanted to hold a census or an election there first. This would ascertain the number of people in the area, as well as find out what their strongest desire was.

Second veto:

1. Johnson didn’t agree with the Edmunds Amendment which said that Nebraska and Colorado had to give equal suffrage to blacks and whites as a statehood condition. Johnson felt this was unconstitutional because Congress couldn’t regulate a state’s franchise, and the people had not been allowed to vote on it.

2. After holding a census, Johnson felt the population was still too small for statehood.

NOTE: In addition, Johnson did not feel right about adding new states to the Union when the Confederate States had not yet been readmitted to the Union and were still unrepresented.

Congress sustained the veto.

Jerome B. Chaffee. Library of Congress descrip...

Jerome B. Chaffee, one of Colorado’s first U.S. Senators, and the man who earlier pushed through Congress the law admitting Colorado into the Union. Library of Congress description: “Chaffee, Hon. J.B. of Colorado” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Colorado Republican and millionaire Jerome Chaffee, serving as the Colorado Territory delegate to Congress, managed to get a statehood bill passed in 1875, President Ulysses S Grant; Grant signed the law.   Colorado drafted a state constitution that passed muster, Coloradans approved it, and President Grant declared Colorado the 38th state on July 1, 1876.  Chaffee was elected one of the first U.S. Senators from Colorado by the new state legislature.  In an odd footnote, President Grant’s son, Ulysses S Grant, Jr., married Chaffee’s daughter Fannie in 1881.  In 1875, Chaffee claimed 150,000 people lived in the state, but most historians think that figure was inflated; the 1880 census counted 194,000 people, but some historians doubt that count was accurate.

No doubt there are at least that many people in Colorado today.  Several counties in the northeast corner of the state recently got together to explore the possibility of separating from Colorado to form their own state.  Does the political cauldron in Colorado ever cool?

More:

An American flag hangs in front of a burning structure in the Black Forest, a thickly wooded rural region north of Colorado Springs, Colo. Authorities reported early Saturday that 473 houses had been incinerated.  Air Force photo

One of the more dramatic images from Colorado in recent years, courtesy the U.S. Air Force. Captioned in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, June 15, 2013: An American flag hangs in front of a burning structure in the Black Forest, a thickly wooded rural region north of Colorado Springs, Colo. Authorities reported early Saturday that 473 houses had been incinerated.

PRCA Rodeo in Steamboat Springs, Colorado; photo from SeaSweetie's Pages

PRCA Rodeo in Steamboat Springs, Colorado; photo from SeaSweetie’s Pages

 


Why are flags flying in West Virginia today? Statehood

June 20, 2013

On June 20, 1863, West Virginia joined the fractured union as the 35th state.

Yes, that was during the Civil War.  Yes, West Virginia had been the northwestern counties of Virginia.  No, I’m not sure of the history of how Congress decided Virginia had consented to be divided.

In any case, per the guidelines in the U.S. Flag Code, West Virginians should fly the U.S. flag today in honor of their statehood, 150 years ago.  Lots of celebrations, reenactments, and general festive events are planned in West Virginia this weekend.

West Virginia's State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, on December 11, 2011

West Virginia’s State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, on December 11, 2011 — built in 1931. From O Palsson’s Flickr collection: “As I was traveling through Charleston, the capital of West Virgina, during blue hour (my favorite time of day) a couple of days after Thanksgiving, I happened upon this beautiful sight of the State Capitol Building reflected in the Kanawha River flowing by in total stillness, so I just had to stop and capture the scene. I didn’t have a tripod handy, so this is not a long-exposure nightshot, just a regular hand-held shot accomplished by bumping up the ISO as much as I dared to get correct exposure at acceptable shutter speed (ended up being 1/40 sec) and doing my best to keep the camera steady.”

Kathryn and I have a few fond memories of Charleston.  Then-West Virginia Attorney General Charlie Brown was one of the few with enough wisdom to offer me a job, when I graduated from the National Law Center as an older student.  Brown promised to clean up West Virginia politics, and he had a lively, very young crew of attorneys fighting coal companies, oil companies, loggers, shady real estate people, and corrupt city, county and state officials.  One fellow in the office complained that he’d “had to argue eight cases” at the State Supreme Court that year, in his first year out of law school.

But the corrupt officials knew what they were doing.  Brown could only offer $25,000 a year, and in Charleston it was unlikely we’d be able to find any work for Kathryn.  Tough to attract crime fighters at less-than crime-fighting rates. It would have been a more than 75% cut in income.  We made a trip there to mull it over, baby on the way (pre-digital photographs buried here in the archives).  Brown got a special dispensation to offer $5,000 more.

Great tour of the Capitol, great interviews with the office lawyers.  Kathryn and I sat for a while in the deserted West Virginia Supreme Court (sort of tucked into an attic of the Capitol) discussing how in the world we could afford to move the Charleston and take on the work.  We went to dinner in a tiny restaurant touted as Charleston’s finest, which was a long way from good eateries in D.C.  We discussed with our host the cultural pickings in Charleston.  We could give up the symphony but get back to fishing and practice fly fishing . . .

A table over the maitre ‘d brought in a few extra chairs, and then seated Muhammed Ali and his party.  Our waiter asked that we not make a scene.

I don’t remember for what charitable purpose Ali was in Charleston, but the event was over and his hosts took him out to the good restaurant in Charleston, too.

Ali was a slower, sedate and gentle version of the fiery fighter he’d been.  Parkinson’s disease already had him in its grip.  His voice, soft as it could be at times, was still strong enough to carry across a table.  There was a young boy with the group, under five years old.  Ali had lost steps, but not spirit.  He produced a couple of balls from a pocket and proceeded to dazzle the kid with sleight-of-hand magic tricks.  He picked one of the balls from behind the kid’s ear, and the kid giggled wonderfully.  Balls appeared here, disappeared there — I remember thinking how much easier those tricks could be with hands that big; but Ali also had difficulty dealing with a knife and fork.  Working magic tricks pulled years away from Ali, and he seemed much younger, much more deft than he really was.  The little boy laughed and giggled through the meal.  It was a happy affair.

Our dinners finished about the same time.  As we got up, Ali looked over at us and said, “You wonder why I spend so much time with children?  They are the future.”

I turned down the offer from West Virginia.  A job I’d hoped for at American Airlines fell through, but a position opened up at the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) at Bill Bennett’s Department of Education.  A year or so later I saw small item in the Washington Post that Charlie Brown had been indicted on some charge.  Coal companies still have a lot of clout in West Virginia.

This is an anniversary day for Ali, too:  June 20, 1967, Muhammed Ali was convicted in Houston, Texas,  of evading the draft.  That conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fly those flags in West Virginia.

More:

U.S. and West Virginia flags flying together.  Photo by Stephen-KarenConn

U.S. and West Virginia flags flying together. Photo by Stephen-KarenConn


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