Flag of the Week – USA (51-stars)

BY ALEX CROUCH

The flag of the U.S.A. is perhaps the most recognisable in the world, and depending on your perspective it symbolises the land of the free and the home of the brave, or, is the face of everything that’s wrong with the world or just your country. So when angry business owners in Moscow starting using the flag as a doormat last month to protest U.S. sanctions on Russia, many Muscovites were only too happy to oblige.

Given the past and present anti-American sentiment in Russia they may need more doormats before long. But will the actual U.S. flag need more stars soon?

It is widely known that the 50 stars on the flag of the United States represent the states themselves. When the Stars and Stripes was adopted in 1777 there were 13 states (then colonies), thus a 13-star flag, and as each new state was admitted to the union a star was added to the flag. The current 50-star flag, acknowledging Hawaii’s admission, was unveiled on 4th July 1960.

Should a 51st state become a reality there’s already proposed future designs for the updated flag.

The first is similar to the descending rows of stars [6-5-6-5-6-5-6-5-6] we have today. On the 51-star version the rows of stars would descend: 9-8-9-8-9-8.

America (51)

A second draft of the 51-star flag sees the row pattern altered to: 6-7-8-9-8-7-6.

America (51.2)

The pro-statehood New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico have designed their own 51-star flag that sees the stars positioned in a circle. There’s one in the middle, five around it, 10 around them, 15 around them and 20 on the outer ring.

America (51.PR)

On the same day as the 2012 U.S. presidential election Puerto Rico held a status referendum on its current relationship with America. Fifty-four per cent of those who voted said Puerto Rico shouldn’t continue its current territorial status, while 61 per cent preferred U.S.-statehood as the alternative.

Puerto Rico has been an unincorporated U.S. territory since the 1898 Spanish-American War and its citizens were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917. But Puerto Ricans cannot vote in presidential elections unless they live in America, which also controls the island’s foreign policy.

In January last year President Obama approved $2.5m for a statehood referendum in Puerto Rico.

State-side there’s a campaign to have the capital, Washington D.C., become a state too.

There also exist plans for a 52, 53, 54 and even a 55-star flag should there be cause for one.

Bonus Fact: The 13 colonies to declare independence from Great Britain in 1776 are represented by the 13 stripes on the current U.S. flag.


Alex Crouch is a 2014 journalism graduate from Southampton Solent University. He has followed Formula One since before he started infant school, was a Games Maker during the London Paralympics and saw Pink Floyd reunite for one song at The O2 in London. Links: Twitter, blog, YouTube. Alex is an accredited Flag Institute journalist.

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13 Responses to Flag of the Week – USA (51-stars)

  1. Peter Waksman 18 September 2015 at 10:46 pm #

    I got one at you haven’t seen:

    http://sphinxmoth.blogspot.com/2011/05/51-state-flag.html

  2. David 11 January 2018 at 12:51 am #

    Nice designs but remember it has to be made in China, so keep it simple 😉

    • cameron 24 October 2018 at 1:21 pm #

      funny bro

    • Venus 27 January 2019 at 3:35 pm #

      It’s funny because it’s likely true.

  3. John McCauley 9 March 2018 at 6:59 pm #

    How and to whom would I submit a proposal for a design of 51 star flag pattern. I have not seen this design as yet, but it would only take a very minor reprogramming from the current design, thus minimal cost to change.

    • Jose A. Lopez 18 October 2018 at 3:17 pm #

      If you’re proud to be American you will do the following: I send your notarized copy to your representative s’ office by mail with a notarized letter attached explaining how you give up all royalties and that the only thing you want is recognition for the idea..
      This way there’s no legal hassels that deal with any profit from having it made and you would go down in history as the designer.
      It’s what I would do if I created. Good Luck!!!

  4. David 12 August 2018 at 8:06 pm #

    For 25 years, the Flag had 15 stars and 15 stripes, as the original plan was to add a star AND stripe for each new state. In 1818, Congress decided to have the stripes represent the 13 colonies and only add stars, going from 15 to 20.

  5. David Warner 12 August 2018 at 8:07 pm #

    For 25 years, the Flag had 15 stars and 15 stripes, as the original plan was to add a star AND stripe for each new state. In 1818, Congress decided to have the stripes represent the 13 colonies and only add stars, going from 15 to 20.

  6. Paul Klenk 13 January 2019 at 9:36 am #

    I was fantasizing about the flag and President Donald Trump and Puerto Rico today, which is what brought me here.

    Imagine how iconic our flag is, a symbol for so many things… Few people really think about the mathematical layout, the aspect ratio, the proportion of blue field to lengths of red and white stripes.

    Imagine what an astonishing feat it would be to cause a transformation of the iconic U.S. flag, simply by bringing another state into the union and necessitating a redesign! Amazing. If President Trump achieved this it would make his enemies brains explode.

    A few of the designs I’ve seen are appealing. The circular field of stars is quite interesting.

    But I think the change must be subtle, not jarring. The flag is beautiful as it is, and much-loved, so the illusion that it “hasn’t really changed much” would probably get the most support.

    How many people could actually tell you or show you, on the spot, how the stars are configured? How many people realize that the field of stars is composed by splitting the number 50 into a 30 and a 20, organizing the 30 and 20 into grids of 6×5 and 5×4, and superimposing them over each other, with 9 rows alternating 6, 5, 6, 5, 6, 5, 6, 5, 6, 5, 6?

    This is why the 6 rows of 9 and 8 stars works. Split 51 stars into 27 and 24. Split those numbers by 3 = 9×3 and 8×3. Superimpose them.

    THE ILLUSION THAT IT REALLY HASN’T CHANGED IS REMARKABLE. If people were to glance at a 51-star flag in that configuration, I bet that a majority would not notice it is 6 rows of stars instead of 9 rows. I bet a majority would not realize the even number, rather than odd number, of rows.

    If it can be found to be prudent and in our interest to add Puerto Rico as the 51st state, I would consider it. I don’t think it should be done for its own sake, or on a whim. I think as a matter of justice, it might be the right thing to do.

    And if it is, the 6-row 9/8 configuration gets my… Vote.

  7. Mike 13 February 2019 at 12:06 am #

    I think the stars should be a picture of the sky over the Capitol building with a grouping of taken a way that 51 stars can be grouped, when we need 51 stars.

  8. alex 9 May 2019 at 4:55 pm #

    Looks better with 50

  9. Dan 8 June 2019 at 5:27 am #

    It looks as if Columbia might be the 51st, but maybe we’ll jump straight to 52 and add Puerto Rico also. Then 76767676. Nate Silver suggests merging the Dakotas, which seems politically unlikely.

  10. Sean Gulley-Ryan 19 September 2019 at 6:25 pm #

    I really like the one where the stars form a circle. I hope that is the one that is used, but I have a feeling that it will be the boring one that looks basically the same as the one we have now.

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