The Postal Service has released a stamp honoring the Flag Act of 1818, the law that established the basic design of the American flag: 13 stripes and one star for each state in the union.
“The Flag Act of 1818 established the framework of our country’s flag, and in the process, gave birth to what has become a globally recognized symbol of independence, hope and pride,” said Pat Mendonca, senior director of the Office of the Postmaster General, who led the June 9 dedication ceremony in Appleton, WI.
Before the law, the nation’s official flag showed 15 stars and 15 stripes. The union’s expansion to 20 states in 1817 required lawmakers to rethink the flag’s configuration.
Rather than increasing the number of stripes every time a new state joined the union, the Flag Act reduced their number to 13, signifying the original 13 colonies, and increased the number of stars to reflect the current number of states in the union.
The act requires the addition of a new star on Independence Day following the admission of a new state. The flag has had 50 stars since July 4, 1960, when a new star was added after Hawaii became the 50th state.
The stamp, which shows a flag with crisp folds and a layering effect, is the second Old Glory-themed stamp this year. In February, the Postal Service released this year’s U.S. Flag stamp.
USPS dedicated the stamp during Appleton’s Flag Day Parade, the nation’s oldest such parade.