J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

“The Standard of our Second Regiment”

A lot of analyses of American and other national flags discuss what the colors symbolize. In fact, those meanings got attached to the banner years after it had been established. In 1782, a Continental Congress report on a seal for the United States noted that it contained the colors of the national flag and said:

White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.
Sometimes, however, color symbolism was a luxury an army couldn’t afford. On Monday, 19 June 1775, Gov. Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut met with that colony’s Committee of War on various matters, including flags:
It was moved and represented that the colour of blue, being ordered for the Standard of our Second Regiment, cannot be obtained, &c.

Voted, That the colour of green be substituted in its stead.
So much for “vigilance, perseverance & justice,” I guess.

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