President Taft Establishes Flag Dimensions
24 June 1912
The creation of the Flag Code in 1912 marked a significant step in the standardization of the use and display of the American flag in the United States. Before the Flag Code, there were no formal guidelines for the design, use, and treatment of the flag, leading to variations in size, color, and arrangement. Flags were often crafted without adherence to any specific regulations, and this lack of uniformity led to confusion and inconsistency in how the flag was represented.
In response to the need for standardization, President William Howard Taft issued Executive Order 1556 on June 24, 1912, which established the Flag Code. This code outlined various aspects of flag design, usage, and etiquette, including specifications for the arrangement of stars, the arrangement of stripes, the use of colors, and the proper handling and display of the flag. The Flag Code aimed to promote a sense of respect and reverence for the national symbol and to provide clear instructions for its consistent representation.
President Taft's executive order was instrumental in providing a framework for the proper use and display of the American flag, helping to eliminate confusion and establish a sense of uniformity. Over the years, the Flag Code has been revised and updated, most notably with the passage of the United States Flag Code in 1942 by the U.S. Congress. This code remains an essential guideline for respecting and displaying the flag with dignity and honor, ensuring that the national symbol is treated with the reverence it deserves.
Actual text of Executive Order 1556
It is hereby ordered that all National Flags and Union Jacks for the Department of the Government, with the exception noted under (a), shall conform to the following proportions:
Hoist (width) of Flag --------------1
Fly (length) of Flag ----------------1.9
Hoist (width) of Union ------------7⁄13
Fly (length) of Union ---------------.76
Width of each stripe ---------------1⁄13
(a) - Exceptions: The colors carried by troops, and camp colors, shall be the sizes prescribed for the Military Service (Army and Navy).
Limitation of the number and size: With the exception of colors under note (a), the size of flags manufactured or purchased for the Government Department will be limited to those of the following
(1) - - -20 feet
(2) - - -19 feet (standard)
(3) - - -14.35 feet
(4) - - -12.19 feet
(5) - - -10 feet
(6) - - -8.94 feet
(7) - - -5.14 feet
(8) - - -5 feet
(9) - - -3.52 feet
(10) - - -2.90 feet
(11) - - -2.37 feet
(12) - - -1.31 feet
When in the manufacture of any flag under these specifications the
resulting dimensions appear as fractions of an inch, such fractions shall be taken as the nearer inch. In the event of a fraction of one half inch, the whole inch greater shall be adopted.
Union Jacks: The size of the Jack shall be the size of the Union of the National Flag with which it is flown.
Number of Stars: All National Flags having hoist less than five (5) feet, except colors to be carried by troops, and the corresponding Jacks, shall have only thirteen (13) stars in the Union, in order that the identity of the stars may be plainly distinguishable.
Position and size of Stars: The position and size of each star for Unions of forty-eight (48) and thirteen (13) stars, respectively, shall be as indicated on blueprint of a plan which will be furnished to the Departments by the Navy Department. From this plan can be determined the location and size of stars for flags of any dimensions. Extra blueprints of this plan will be furnished upon application to the Navy Department.
Order effective: All National Flags and Union Jacks now on hand or for which contracts have been awarded shall be continued in use until unserviceable, but all those manufactured or purchased for Government use after July 4, 1912 shall conform strictly to the dimensions and proportions herein prescribed.
The color of the field of the President's Flag shall be blue.
WM. H. TAFT.
THE WHITE HOUSE
June 24, 1912