9 September 2014: We’re going to be talking about our American flag – OLD GLORY - and I hope everyone knows what it looks like!
Since we’re waiting for Col. John Skinner and Francis Scott Key to finish their negotiations with the British admiralty on HMS Tonnant for the release of Doctor Beanes -(interestingly, Admiral Cockburn – remember him? He dined at the President’s Mansion in Washington City – refused to see them but Adm. Cochran did, but only Skinner. Key was excluded from the meeting!), I thought a look at the creation of THE flag might be interesting. Just a quickie:
The Flag was sewn by Mary Pickersgill in Baltimore at her home (now the ‘Flag House” and a museum). She was assisted by her daughter, 2 nieces, and an indentured black servant.It was commissioned by Major George Armistead, commandant of Fort McHenry in June of 1813 when he assumed command of the fort. She also made smaller “storm flag” to be used, obviously, during bad weather. The main flag was 30X42 feet (the storm flag was 17X25 ft.) and was made from dyed English wool bunting. Each star is 2 ft in diameter and each stripe is about 2 ft wide! It took six to eight weeks to construct and cost the government $405.90. The Storm flag was a mere $168.54!
It was the larger garrison flag that Key had seen before the bombardment and was looking for during the long night. He was unaware that Armistead had put up the storm flag during the inclement weather that came in over night. He did, however, raise the big flag at sunrise when the weather cleared after the bombardment ended.
The flag currently is on display at the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of American History. Kept in subdued lighting to preserve what’s left of it, the flag is a stirring sight for visitors.
We’ll get back to Key, the bombardment, and his poem in a day or two.
“Nodding the head does not row the boat!” - Old Irish Saying