The first US Flag Act in 1777 established 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."
In 1794, they added two more stripes and two more stars.
The Flag Act of April 4, 1818, specified that the flag have 13 stripes (to represent the original 13 colonies) and one star for each state. If a new state is established, the new star will be added to the flag on the 4th of July following that state's admission to the US.
The colors of the flag, according to Charles Thompson, who was Secretary of the Continental Congress, signify the following:
- White = purity and innocence
- Red = hardiness & valour
- Blue = vigilance, perseverance & justice
The star symbolizes "the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun" (from a book about the flag published by the House of Representatives in 1977).
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The thirteen stripes represents the original 13 colonies in the US.
The red, white and blue colors on the flag have different philosophical values, red for blood war and courage, white for purity and blue for justice and freedom.
The US Flag Act in 1977 also said that "the flag of the United States be the thirteen stripes, alternated with red and white and the union be thirteen stars, white in a bay of blue field that would represent a new Constellation.
The White stars on the flag represent the individual states of America. There are about 50 stars in the flag, so all of them representing each of the 50 states in the US. So if one state is formed, another star is added to the flag.