Fly your flags on January 29, Kansans! Happy Statehood Day!

January 29, 2015

Kansas celebrates 154 years of statehood, though mired in the worst budget situation of any state in quite a while.

Fitting, perhaps, for a state whose admission brought the nation to the brink of civil war — which it subsequently plunged into.

Regardless the circumstances of its statehood, the U.S. Flag Code urges Americans to fly the U.S. flag on the date their state was admitted into the Union. Kansans, unfurl those colors!

 

U.S. and Kansas flags flying together in Ashland, Kansas. Photo by courthouselover, flickr, via Pinterest

U.S. and Kansas flags flying together in Ashland, Kansas. Photo by courthouselover, flickr, via Pinterest

Teachers, take note: Historical records from the National Archives and Records Administration, on Kansas statehood.  Good DBQ material for AP history classes, maybe good material for projects:

Kansas Statehood, January 29, 1861

Located in the historical records of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate at the Center for Legislative Archives are many documents that illustrate the important role Congress plays in the statehood process. On January 29, 1861 Kansas became the 34th state; 2011 marks its 150th anniversary. Here is a small sampling of the many congressional records that tell the story of Kansas’s tumultuous path to statehood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More:

Four-cent U.S. Postal Service stamp issued in 1961, honoring the centennial of Kansas's statehood with the state flower, the sunflower.

Four-cent U.S. Postal Service stamp issued in 1961, honoring the centennial of Kansas’s statehood with the state flower, the sunflower. Wikimedia image


Remember the day Utah flew the flag backwards, to honor the Union?

January 4, 2015

In 2013, Holly Munson at the Constitution Center wrote up a piece 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.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post.  Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.  Remembering history takes constant reminders.

Her report is very solid, even though brief, and interesting.  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 architecture.  (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.

(From what platform did Reed get that photo?  I’ll have to check to be sure it was there in 1896, but I’m thinking he shot from the Salt Lake County Building; it’s a distance, though.  A photographic historical mystery!)

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:


Utah at 119 years: Fly your flag today for Utah statehood, January 4, 1896

January 4, 2015

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!  119 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 flags: Iowa Statehood, December 28, 1846

December 27, 2014

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.

“Millions of acres. Iowa and Nebraska. Land for sale on 10 years credit by the Burlington & Missouri River R. R. Co. at 6 per ct interest and low prices.” Poster advertising land in Iowa, circa 1872, from the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Co. – Library of Congress Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 134, Folder 13; via Wikipedia

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

More:

Yes, this is mostly an encore post.  Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.


November dates for flag flying

November 14, 2014

Already in November we’ve passed two of the month’s dates for which we are urged to fly the U.S. flag, election day, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November by law (flag dates including local elections on whatever date, especially at polling places), and Veterans Day, or Armistice Day, on November 11, commemorating the date set for the armistice of World War I.

What could be left?

According to the U.S. Flag Code, 4 USC 1, sec. 6, we should fly the flag on all national holidays, which includes Thanksgiving, though most patriots are busier with turkey baking, football and family that day.

Several states entered the union in November; citizens and residents of those states fly the U.S. flag on those statehood days.

Most states would hope you’d fly the state’s flag on its statehood day, too.  But how many people actually have a state flay for their own state?  (We have a Texas flag; Texas may be the most state-flag-flying state; we also have a Maryland flag, which used to make for great displays when we flew both flags at our Maryland home.)

At the Avenue of the Flags near the Mount Rushmore Memorial to four U.S. presidents, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  There are displayed flags of all 50 states, plus territories, commonwealths and the federal district of the United Sates.

At the Avenue of the Flags near the Mount Rushmore Memorial to four U.S. presidents, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. There are displayed flags of all 50 states, plus territories, commonwealths and the federal district of the United Sates. Image from BlackHillsBadlands.com

This year you may have missed a few already:

  • North Dakota, November 2 (1889, the  39th or 40th state), the same day as
  • South Dakota, November 2 (1889, the  39th or 40th state)
  • Montana, November 8 (1889, the 41st state)
  • Washington, November 11 (1889, the 42nd state) (but, hey, you were already flying your flag, right, Washingtonians?)

You can still catch two states’ statehood days:

  • Oklahoma, November 16 (1907, the 46th state)
  • North Carolina, November 21 (1789, the 12th state)

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.


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