The answers as to what the colors and stars of the flag stand for in their symbolism are many. With the many patriotic and veteran organizations and official armed services various interpretations, there seems to be debate on who has the right answer. Herein the following are those interpretations of the founding fathers of our flag and symbolism of the Great Seal of the United States. These represent the earliest known, as yet, of the true meanings that we give to the flag. The symbols and colors reflect the Founding Fathers’ beliefs, values, sovereignty and interpretations of the new Nation.
Flag Act of June 14, 1777 – The Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved,That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” No references or origins were given to the colors at the time of their adoption. However five years later in 1782 a specified reference is given.
The Great Seal of June 20. 1782 – Unlike the flag Act of 1777, the colors of the Great Seal had specific meanings as reported on June 20, 1782 by Charles Thompson, the Secretary of the Continental Congress, who was present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 introduced this design for the new Seal of the United States: “The colors of the pales are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness and valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.”
On the Fourth of July 1840 the Boston, Massachusetts Emancipator and Republican newspaper gave the following interpretation that the author believes reflects those earlier meanings attributed to the flag.
“The white stripes may remind us of the justice of our cause, and the honest principles that urged the Declaration of Independence; while, at the same time, they are expressive of the purity of virtue.”
“The red stripes will remind us that those primal patriots so loved liberty and their native land, that they were willing to shed their blood in the sacred cause.”
“The blue field, (or square,) is emblematic of the prosperity enjoyed in the smiles of good Providence, shining out upon us from heaven, and cheering us like a clear blue sky. The stars are an emblem of light, – of the light of the Gospel, – of civil and religious liberty. They are the emblems also of hope. The star of freedom is the hope of the world, for each earthly blessing, from a hand divine. Our star of freedom sheds a light, revealing to man the knowledge of his natural rights, and the value of them.”
“The stars are an emblem of light, – of the light of the Gospel, – of civil and religious liberty. They are the emblems also of hope.”
Sources: “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Emancipator and Republican (Mass.), July 2, 1840; Reports of the Continental Congress, 1775-1782.