July 4, 1861: How many stars were on the American Flag?

Annie69 By Annie69, 3rd Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>History

Stars are added to the American flag when a new state is admitted to the Union and, by an Act of Congress in 1818, that date is the July 4 following the date of admission. So, how many stars were on the American flag on July 4, 1861?

Lincoln elected President

There were 33 states in the Union when Abraham Lincoln was elected President on November 6, 1860. They were represented by 33 stars on the American flag. Kansas was admitted to the Union on January 29, 1861, but, due to an Act of Congress which took effect in 1818, the star would not be added until later that year on July 4.

States secede and the Confederacy is formed

South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas seceded from the Union when Lincoln was elected President. The Confederacy was formed in February, 1861, and Lincoln took office in March.

Lincoln calls for troops

The first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter the following month. Lincoln immediately called for 75,000 troops to put down the rebellion. Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina seceded and joined the Confederacy in April and May because none of them would draw arms against their sister states.

Eleven states seceded

By July 4, 1861, a total of eleven states had seceded from the Union. If 11 stars were removed for the Confederacy and one star was added for Kansas, the only possible answer is 23. Right?

34 stars

President Lincoln knew 23 stars on the flag would be the same as acknowledging the Confederacy as a separate nation—to the Union, to the Confederacy, and to the world. This Lincoln refused to do.

Nor would he recognize the war as anything other than a rebellion. Lincoln needed to downplay the reason behind the Confederacy's existence in order to save the Union.

For this reason, the American flag had 34 stars on July 4, 1861.


American Flag, Civil War, Kansas Statehood, Northern States

Meet the author

author avatar Annie69
History column appears weekly in local newspaper. Also news, human interest, and pictures. My fiction and poems have appeared in literary anthologies and I've written 3 novels

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
3rd Oct 2015 (#)

Interesting post, you a true American historian Annie, thanks for sharing it!

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author avatar Annie69
3rd Oct 2015 (#)

You're welcome, glad you liked it. Funny thing is, I always hated history in school because it was so boring. I like finding little bits of trivia and making history a bit less boring. And thanks for the nice comment.

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author avatar Madan G Singh
4th Oct 2015 (#)

Another interesting post

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author avatar Annie69
5th Oct 2015 (#)

Thanks, appreciate you reading and commenting.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
5th Oct 2015 (#)

I would agree with Lincoln's logic.

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author avatar Annie69
5th Oct 2015 (#)

Hi Peter, I think you and I are on LinkedIn together. I really appreciate you reading and commenting on my history stuff. And yes, Lincoln's logic looked pretty good to me, too. He used the Emancipation Proclamation the same way. It didn't free anyone, but it effectively keep Europe from acknowledging the Confederacy.

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