2016’s Dakota statehood days – fly your flags

November 2, 2016

North Dakota's commemorative quarter depicts the American bison, perhaps the quintessential prairie symbol.

North Dakota’s commemorative quarter depicts the American bison, perhaps the quintessential prairie symbol.

South Dakota's commemorative quarter interestingly focuses on human alterations to the area -- the carved presidential busts on Mt. Rushmore, wheat introduced by immigrant farmers, and the Chinese pheasant, an exotic species introduced for hunting.

South Dakota’s commemorative quarter interestingly focuses on human alterations to the area — the carved presidential busts on Mt. Rushmore, wheat introduced by immigrant farmers, and the Chinese pheasant, an exotic species introduced for hunting.

Residents of North Dakota and South Dakota should fly their U.S. flags today in honor of your states’ being admitted to the union, on November 2, 1889.

Most sites note simply that both states were admitted on the same day; some sites, especially those that lean toward North Dakota, claim that state is Number 39, because President Harrison signed their papers first, after shuffling to avoid playing favorites.

Does anyone really care?

How much do you really know about the Dakotas?

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September 9, 2016 California Statehood Day

September 9, 2016

California residents fly their U.S. flags today in honor of California’s entering the union this day in 1850.

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.

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Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, one of the 15 California songs listed at Today Past.

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

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience, and in the case of history tied to specific dates, repetition.

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Colorado Statehood Day 2016 – Fly your flags

August 1, 2016

Colorado won proclamation as a state on August 1, 1876, the 38th state in the United States.

August 1 is Colorado Statehood day. U.S. Flag Code urges residents to fly the U.S. flag on the day their state entered the union — today, for Colorado. They call it Colorado Day now.

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 took a tortuous path to statehood.  While Colorado was not frustrated so often nor so long as it’s nextdoor neighbor, Utah, laws proposed 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, in the second term of 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 August 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. 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 got together in 2013 to explore the possibility of separating from Colorado to form their own state.  Does the political cauldron in Colorado ever cool? (Did those secessionists ever cool?)

Happy statehood day, to the Centennial State.

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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.” Wildfires plagued Colorado 2012-2015, a function of effects of a warming climate.

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

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

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

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

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Flying the flag for West Virginia Statehood, and remembering Muhammed Ali

June 20, 2016

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, 153 years ago.  West Virginia no doubt has lots of celebrations, reenactments, and general festive events planned.

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 at George Washington University 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 in the archives).  Brown got a special dispensation to offer me $5,000 more.

Great tour of the Capitol, great interviews with the office lawyers.  Kathryn and I sat for a long 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 drove around the city, looking at houses for sale and rent; we gazed at the Kanawha River and discussed the future for the city.

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 few tables 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.

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June 1, 2016: Fly your flags today in Kentucky and Tennessee for Statehood Day

June 1, 2016

Our laws on respecting and flying Old Glory encourage citizens to fly U.S. flags on specific dates, and on the date of statehood of the state in which a citizen lives.

Kentucky joined the union on June 1, 1792, the 15th state.  Tennessee joined four years later, on June 1, 1796, becoming the 16th state.

Fly your flags today in Kentucky and Tennessee — or wherever Kentuckians or Tennesseeans may be — in honor of statehood.

U.S. and Tennessee flags flying together on one staff. Photo by J. Stephen Conn

U.S. and Tennessee flags flying together on one staff. Photo by J. Stephen Conn

Kentucky's state flag, by Gage Skidmore

Kentucky’s state flag features a Native American and European colonist standing together, and the state motto, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” Photo by Gage Skidmore

Kentucky’s admission to the union pushed the U.S. flag to 15 stars and 15 stripes.   President George Washington signed the law that authorized the U.S. flag be expanded to 15 stripes in early 1794.  I’ve not pinned down the history of what happened next.  So far as I know there was no law expanding the flag to 16 stripes, and in 1818, Congress said the flag would be 13 stripes, with stars equal to the number of states (the law specified no specific pattern for the stars).

A 15-striped Star-spangled Banner that flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor in 1814 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that is now the lyric to our national anthem.  President James Monroe signed the 13-stripe law four years later, in 1818.

What happened in between?  I suspect there are a lot of 15-stripe flags, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find a 16-stripe flag somewhere.  A variety of stars-and-stripes flags cropped up, which the 1818 law was intended to squelch.

Residents of the Bluegrass State and the Volunteer State should fly their flags today, in honor of their state’s having joined the union on June 1.

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

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


February 6, Massachusetts Statehood Day

February 6, 2016

Flag etiquette guides and the U.S. Flag Code urge residents of Massachusetts to fly U.S. flags today, to honor Massachusetts’s joining the Union.

U.S. flag flies at Quincy Market in Boston (a 4th of July celebration is pictured) - WHDH Channel 7 image

U.S. flag flies at Quincy Market in Boston (a 4th of July celebration is pictured) – WHDH Channel 7 image

Massachusetts’s statehood is figured as the date the colony ratified the U.S. Constitution. A convention ratified the document on February 6, 1788. Massachusetts was the 6th colony to ratify.

The next flag-flying date is February 12, in honor of Lincoln’s birthday.


Fly flags on January 29, Kansans! Happy Statehood Day 2016!

January 28, 2016

Kansas celebrates 155 years of statehood, though still 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 the nation 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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


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