The flag of the United States is something with which we are all familiar. Many business and several households fly it every day. It's on the uniform of the men and women serving our country. It's in the heart of many who love this country.
The first flag, the 13-star "Betsy Ross flag," was authorized by Congress on June 14, 1777 ... which is why that's celebrated as Flag Day. That flag, or a variation of it, flew over this country until Vermont (1791) and Kentucky (1792) joined the Union. It was not until 1795 that the flag was changed to reflect those 2 states. But, the new flag had not just 15 stars, but also 15 stripes. That's the flag that flew over Ft. McHenry, and was the subject of Frances Scott Key's poem that later became the Star-Spangled Banner.
Even though Tennessee joined the Union in 1796, the flag remained unchanged. In fact, it remained unchanged through the admission of Ohio (1803), Louisiana (1812), Indiana (1816), and Mississippi (1817). In 1818, the 5 new states were finally reflected in the flag with the change to 20 stars. The stripes were reduced back to the original 13.
Illinois was admitted to the Union in 1818, and the flag was changed the next year.
Alabama (1819) and Maine (1820) led to the 1820 increase to 23 stars.
Missouri (1821) was reflected in 1822, as was Arkansas (1836) in 1836. Michigan (1837) brought the 26-star flag in 1837. Florida's admission to the Union necessitated the 1845 change of the flag.
Texas (1845) meant the flag would increase to 28 stars in 1846. Iowa (1846) brought the number of states to 29, and in 1847 the flag reflected that. Wisconsin (1848) brought the number of stars to 30.
California (1850) led to the increase to 31 stars in 1851, while Minnesota (1858) brought the number of stars to 32. Oregon (1859) made the total 33, Kansas (1861) brought the 34th star, West Virginia (1863) the 35th, and Nevada (1864) made it 36 in 1865.
Nebraska (1867) brought the number of states and stars to 37, while Colorado (1876) made it 38 in 1877.
Things got busy in 1889 when North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington were added to the Union. Idaho was added in 1890, meaning that the 1890 flag would reflect an increase from 38 to 43 stars. Wyoming was admitted to the Union 6 days after the new flag was flown, which meant it would be 1891 before the 44-star flag would fly.
Utah brought the flag to 45 stars in 1896, and Oklahoma (1907) brought the 46-star flag in 1908.
New Mexico and Arizona were added to the Union in 1912, and the flag reflected 48 stars beginning July 4, 1912. That flag flew for 47 years, until 1959, when Alaska became the 49th state and was reflected with the 49-star flag.
Later in 1959, Hawaii was admitted to the Union, bringing the number of states to 50. On July 4 1960, the 50-star flag was first flown.
That 50-star flag has now flown 47 years and 1 day, longer than any other flag in the history of this country.