More Stars

Concerns written here of the addition of stars to the US flag. History buffs are free to correct me, but I can’t think of circumstances in which people routinely counted the number of white stars on the blue background of my nation’s flag, then finding something different than expected, complained.

Since Independence Day 2008, the US flag has gone the most years ever without an official update. The longest previous period of stasis was between the admittance of Arizona and Alaska (1912-1959). Curious thing about 1959: the US did have a 49-star flag for a brief time. I have a boyhood memory of a miniature. Wish I still had it.

Last month one of my facebook friends was musing about California’s proposed split, which would add two stars, not three to the upper left constellation.

Perhaps more likely than a Left Coast split is the addition of Puerto Rico. For history buffs, it would be the single biggest addition in terms of population and Congressional representation in US history.* Plus it would break the 59-year-plus streak of the same star design. I presume a staggered-row pattern would be adopted, but this circular version, left, is intriguing. Despite what you’ve seen in Revolutionary War enactments, I don’t think the circular design of 13 stars was ever an official act of federal heraldry. But if went with that circle of stars, people would certainly notice a difference.

*Even the admission of Texas and California produced a Congressional delegation of four each in the 1850s. Puerto Rico, if admitted to statehood, would get five representatives in the House, plus two senators. Today, Texas and California combine to send 93 people to Congress.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to More Stars

  1. LIam says:

    A 51 star flag is a simple design order: 3 rows of 9 alternating with 3 rows of 8, although I expect as a formal matter the United States Army Institute of Heraldry would produce the design for the President to issue by executive order pursuant to the U.S. Code.

    The design is one thing. But our current political situation is not so different from the Missouri Compromise era (1820-1850): neither political party will allow the creation of a state that would alter the political balance in Congress. Period. But it’s worse than the Missouri Compromise era in the sense that no pairing of states (Maine-Missouri; Arkansas-Michigan; Florida-Texas-Iowa-Wisconsin) is likely to be tolerated either.

    The only way residents of the District of Columbia will gain statehood is by retroceding most of the DIstrict to Maryland (as what is now Arlington County was retroceded from the District to Virginia in 1846). Puerto Rico, USVI, Guam – I doubt it would happen unless they were annexed by an existing state.

    One overlooked thing is how the GOP Congress of the 1920s sat on reapportionment for nine years after the 1920 Census – which census showed America had become majority urban, which meant reapportionment portended more political uncertainty. The resolution of the nine-year stonewall included capping the size of the US House for the first time after a reapportionment (at 435 members). Congress hardly convenes in a way requiring its current desk arrangements: the desks in the House chamber could be ripped out, and benches installed to accommodate many more Representatives (or, perhaps only bench seating around the perimeter and have able-bodied Representatives stand – could accommodate even more Representatives). If and when we get some restraint on gerrymandering, then I’d passionately advocate for dramatically increasing the size of the House. That would strike fear in the hearts (such as they are) of lobbyists – because it would dramatically increase uncertainty. Mind you, I am aware that this idea comes with the considerable risk of making it more likely that power would become more narrowly concentrated because of diffusion of membership and increase in turnover; and to address that, some aspects of leadership need to be chosen by random lot at various stages in the process.

    • Liam says:

      PS: If the Institute for Heraldry were asked to be more creative within bounds of traditional designs (the design process only having been fixed by federal law with the adoption of the 48 star flag in 1912), one could do a 9-row diamond/lozenge design (39 stars: 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1) with 3 stars in each of the four corners.

  2. Secular, not Catholic

    On Tue, Jul 17, 2018 at 5:17 PM Catholic Sensibility wrote:

    > catholicsensibility posted: “Concerns written here of the addition of > stars to the US flag. History buffs are free to correct me, but I can’t > think of circumstances in which people routinely counted the number of > white stars on the blue background of my nation’s flag, then finding so” >

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