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Third Flag Act

15th Congress, 1st Session, April 4, 1818



The Flag Act of 1818 (3 Stat. 415)


STATUTE I, CHAP. XXXIV - An Act to establish the flag of the United States


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That from and after the fourth day of July next, the flag of the United States be thirteen horizontal stripes, alternate red and white: that the union be twenty stars, white in a blue field.


SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That on the admission of every new state into the Union, one star be added to the union of the flag; and that such addition shall take effect on the fourth day of July then next succeeding such admission.


April 4, 1818.


The Flag Act of 1818 was a crucial piece of legislation in the United States that standardized the design of the American flag and established a clear guideline for incorporating new states into the Union. Enacted on April 4, 1818, this act replaced the previous Flag Act of 1794, which had increased the number of stars and stripes to reflect the number of states. The 1818 Act, however, recognized that adding stripes for each new state would become impractical as the nation continued to grow. It stipulated that the flag would maintain 13 alternating stripes representing the original colonies, and that a star would be added for each new state while retaining the 13-stripe design. This elegant solution allowed for the representation of new states without overcrowding the flag with stripes.

The Flag Act of 1818 essentially created the enduring design of the American flag that we recognize today. It codified the arrangement of stars and stripes that symbolize both the nation's original colonies and its continued expansion through the admission of new states. This act emphasized the importance of maintaining a consistent and balanced flag design while accommodating the growth of the United States. The Flag Act of 1818 continues to shape the iconic appearance of the American flag, reflecting the values of unity, growth, and continuity that the nation holds dear.

Additional Resources:


Third Flag Act


The Flag 1818 to the Civil War - 3rd Flag Act

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