Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hawaii: The Flag of Negotiation

On August 20, 1950, Hawaii became the 50th state of the Union...

You might expect a modern, tropical paradise like Hawaii to choose a flag the color of the ocean, or to include a volcano or two. After all, Hawaii is home to the world's largest and most active volcano. You might think the flag would include pineapples or coffee beans – the foods or flora the 8 islands are famous for.

You would be completely wrong. 

To look at the Hawaiian flag is to look at centuries of negotiation and alliance with two countries: England and the United States.
King Ka-meha-meha I (rootsweb)

Originally, each of the 8 islands that make up the state of Hawaii – the most isolated occupied land mass on the planet – had a different king. King Ka-meha-meha I, however, is the king that united the Hawaiian islands. 

It also was during Ka-me-ha-me-ha's reign, that Hawaii sought England's protection. Discovered by Captain Cook by accident in 1788 (Cook was looking for the northern coast of California), Hawaii was familiar with English ships and English trade. 

On Feb. 21, 1794, Hawaii officially became a protectorate of England.

Just 4 days after the agreement was signed, the Union Jack was raised over the Hawaiian islands for the very first time. In a funny way, it still waves, reminding one and all that Hawaii, as well as the entire United States, was once a part of England.  

King James' flag, probably what Hawaii flew, c. 1794

According to some sources, this first Union Jack to fly over Hawaii was the version flown by King James from 1603-1625.


The British "Union Jack"

The sea flag of czarist Russia

The King James' flag would have been replaced by the now-familiar, second Union Jack in 1801.

While Hawaii and King Ka-meha-meha were flying the English flag, over on Kauai, they were flying the Russian flag! 

This remained a small bone of contention between the two islands but Kauai would continue to fly the Russian flag for quite some time, even as King Ka-meha-meha conquered the other islands and brought the Union Jack with him.
 Legend has it that years later, during the War of 1812, an American visitor and friend of the king encouraged him to fly his own flag. The thinking was that a sovereign flag may be thought to be less provocative to fly during war than flying England's Union Jack.

Whether this is true or not, it certainly makes sense and corresponds with King Ka-meha-meha's timing for the design of his flag, a forerunner of the current flag for the state of Hawaii

The Hawaii state flag

The new Hawaiian flag was a clever mixing of the English flag and the Star-Spangled Banner, a hybrid to the current flag for the state of Hawaii . It included a small Union Jack in the design as well as several red, white and blue stripes.  While the stripes are the colors of the Unites States' flag, the number of stripes is said to represent each of the Hawaiian islands. When the new flag was flown, it flew everywhere – including Kauai where it replaced the Russian flag.
King Kamehameha III (rootsweb)
In 1843, a sea-faring English lord seized the Hawaiian islands from King Ka-meha-meha III. For four months, Lord Paulet taxed the people, impressed them into military service, and ruled, seemingly with impunity. King Ka meha-meha III, however, sent word to England, asking for help.

That June, an American ship sailed into port and King Ka meha-meha III wasted no time before appealing to the Americans. The Americans responded favorably by recognizing the legitimate government of Hawaii and not Paulet's pretend kingdom. In point of fact, the Americans responded by raising a hastily made version of the Hawaiian flag as all others had been burnt by Paulet.

A model of Captain Cook's Endeavor

Just days later, another ship sailed into harbor, this one under order from the English king to restore Hawaii's independence. Paulet's usurpation was over. 

A celebration was organized on July 31, 1843. A proclamation was read declaring Hawaii's restored status as an independent nation under the protectorate of England. King Ka meha-meha gave a speech. There were parades. The Hawaiian anthem was sung. It was, by all reports, a glorious day.

From King Ka meha-meha's speech that day, a statement was taken and was adopted as the state motto. Translated into English, it says:

"The perpetuation of the life of the land 
depends upon righteousness."

In the years between 1849-1851, the French discovered Hawaii and created enough difficulty that Hawaii thought it more practical to be placed under the protection of the much closer United States. A new contract was negotiated.

Queen Lilio'okalani (rootsweb)
In 1893, as the century was rapidly closing, the queen of the Hawaiian islands attempted a coup. It lasted all of three days, ending on January 17 when the United States Navy landed and restored order.  The local Committee for Safety issued a proclamation that nullified the kingdom, authorized a temporary government,  and placed the islands under "the control and management" of the United States.

This arrangement lasted an entire two months before an independent Hawaii was restored.

Then in 1898, President McKinley illegally annexed Hawaii for the United States (the Newland Resolution). This was remedied in 1900 with Hawaii becoming an official Territory of the United States and, in 1901, forming its first congressional delegation.

Finally, in 1959, after a popular referendum in which over 90% of the vote supported Hawaii becoming the 50th state, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the act that brought Hawaii its statehood.

Ho'omaika'i 'ana, Hawa'ii! (Congratulations, Hawaii!)

Let if fly!

To find find out how to fly the flag and other flag etiquette, see USFlagstore's  Flag Etiquette 101 and USFlagstore's How to Fly the Flag at Half-Staff.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Missouri: A Tradition of Independent Thinkers, Artists and Doers

Forged from division and settled away from the denser and older societies east of the Mississippi, Missouri has been home to some wonderfully diverse and creative thinkers, in industry, the arts and the sciences. 
Walt Disney's Tinkerbell!
Thinkers and Visionaries: 
Or the only time you will find Walt Disney and Edwin Hubble in the same paragraph!

• Walt Disney
• Joseph Pulitzer (the Pulitzer Prize)
• J. William Fulbright (Fulbright Fellowships)
• Edwin Hubble (Hubble Telescope)

Doers and some interesting doings:
President Truman (Photo:myapologies.wordpress)
• Harry S. Truman (the 33rd president of the United States) 
• M. Lemma Barkeloo (the 1st US woman trial lawyer)
• 1st US Suffrage Club
• 1st US public kindergarten

• 1st university west of the Mississippi (the University of Missouri)

Missouri writes: And it is a fabulous list!
How many of these writers, poets and playwrights have you read? How many are American favorites? And this is the short list! Check out these links. They are good ones.

Twain's famous paint job
• Sara Teasdale
• Kate Chopin
• Tennessee Williams
• Laura Ingalls Wilder
• Margaret Truman

Sheryl Crow (Photo: sherylcrow.com)
Missouri musicians: Jazz, Blues ... and a whole lot more!
Check out these links to videos and documentaries and enjoy!

• James Scott (cover of an early but very pretty Scott ragtime two-step)

• Josephine Baker
• Charlie "Bird" Parker

The "Really?" and "Wow!" list of actors, directors and dancers born or raised in Missouri:
Jean Harlow (Photo: George Hurrell)
• Robert Altman
• John Huston
• Vincent Price
• Betty Grable
• Dick Van Dyke
• Ed Asner
• Marsha Mason
• John Goodman ... and Brad Pitt

And remember the Cow Parade at the American Royal!
American Royal CowParade.com ceramic
What is the American Royal?

Let's start with the food! The American Royal is home to the world's biggest barbecue.

The American Royal also is the oldest livestock sale in the United States. 

It's the oldest American rodeo. It began in a tent showing off Herefords. Now, it hosts the American Royal Livestock Show as well as other stock and equestrian events, and show titles.
It's also a lot of fun!
The real deal! (Photo: American Royal)
This year, the American Royal is 112 years old. Yee-haw! (Being from Missouri, I can do that.)
To find out more about the history of Missouri, check out Missouri Digital Heritage.

Let it fly!

To find find out how to fly the flag and other flag etiquette, see USFlagstore's  Flag Etiquette 101 and USFlagstore's How to Fly the Flag at Half-Staff.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Missouri: The West Starts Here

Morals — all correct moral laws — derive from the instinct 
to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior 
above the individual level.   
~ Sci-fi author and Missouri native, Robert Heinlein

1860: the first Pony Express left St. Joseph, MO for Sacramento
In 1821, the year of its statehood, Missouri was at the crossroads of a geographic and political revolution.

Part of the wild west territory culled from Spanish and French colonial rule, this was where the debate over slavery was held in a constant and contentious balance:

Geographically, Missouri was at the very juncture where a growing nation had to decide if its burgeoning borders would be a land of the free or the enslaved.  

Politically, the math of legislative and economic power had carefully balanced the number of free states against the number of slave states. This could easily be upended if or when Missouri was accepted as a state.

In 1820, the wheel of fortune turned again when Maine applied for statehood (as a free state) and the Missouri Compromise was reached (making Missouri slave territory).

1820 map showing the 36/30 Parallel and the free/ slave states (Map: PBS)
The Compromise was a patchwork attempt to appease both sides as it defined the territory on one side of the 36° 30' parallel (what would become Kansas) to be free and territory on the other side (Missouri) to be slave. The fact that Missouri was a borderland – of politics as well as geography – was evident in the many and often dramatic legislative proposals that were put forth prior to and after the Missouri Compromise.

In 1821, when Missouri again applied for statehood (for the 8th time), it was granted.
Missouri painter Thomas Hart Benton's Boy and Dog and Farm

Some thirty years later, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 (the concept of popular sovereignty) overrode the Missouri Compromise. It allowed for the settlers in Kansas and Nebraska to decide (to vote) for themselves if they would or would not allow slavery within their territory. This seems simple enough but it was a political tinderbox that fired such far-reaching discussion as the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates in Illinois.
In short: either you were for a version of self-rule (which made room for slavery) or you found the expansion of slavery impossible to condone (which gave the federal government the right to override laws allowing slavery in the new territories).

Mr. Dred Scott (Missouri Historical Society)
The Dred Scott Decision (1857) underscored the chaos and the tragedy of these times. In their decision, the Supreme Court ruled that:

1. the Missouri Compromise (which prohibited slavery in some of the new territories) was unconstitutional. 
2. African Americans – slave or free – were not citizens (nor eligible for citizenship).
3. because African Americans were not citizens, they (including children born on free land) had no ability to seek any protection under the law (to sue). 
4. Slaves were to be treated as physical property under the law. Specifically, a law (like the Missouri Compromise) could not free a slave from his/ her owner, even if the "slave" was living in "free" territory.

In practical terms, this meant that if you were free in one territory, you might not be free in another territory. Likewise, if you were a slave in one territory but had been living in a "free" territory and had raised children in that territory, your former master could claim you and your children – and you could do nothing about it because you did not have any rights as a citizen.

As the West was settled in the boom decades between 1820 and 1860, a harvest of political unrest was being planted that eventually would grow into the Civil War.

The Missouri state flag with its grizzly bears and crescent moon.
A new flag ...

After the Civil War and at the turn of the 20th century, the country was taking stock. It was at this time that the Daughters of the American Revolution began to sponsor state flag contests. The Missouri state flag is the result of the 1908 flag contest.

The state flag of Missouri was designed by Mrs. Marie Elizabeth Oliver, the chairperson of the local DAR search committee and the wife of Senator Robert Burett Oliver

A second Missouri state flag, one designed by Dr. G. H. Holcomb, had been under consideration but Oliver's design ultimately was chosen. In 1913, the Oliver flag became the official Missouri state flag.

The Missouri state flag consists of three, wide, horizontal, red, white, and blue stripes – the colors of the national flag. In the center is the Missouri state seal. This juxtaposition underscores the union between the state and the nation. Placing the seal at the center of the Missouri state flag also emphasizes Missouri's place in the middle of the nation.

Within the Missouri state seal there are 24 stars as Missouri is the 24th state. The largest star is supposed to represent the fact that Missouri became a state after rising above significant challenges. The grizzly bears and helmet are symbols representing the strength and fortitude of Missouri.

The crescent moon on the Missouri state flag can be read two ways: Its two points can indicate that Missouri is the second state to "grow" out of the new territory (from the Latin, cresare, to grow). In traditional heraldry, however, a crescent moon facing up, as this one does, generally indicates that this is a branch of a larger family. This would indicate Missouri as growing out of the new territories as well as being a part of the United States.    

There are two mottoes on the Missouri state flag. One is in English: United We Stand. Divided We Fall. Again, this emphasizes the importance of unity. The Latin motto, Salus populi suprema lex esto translates to "Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law."

Let it fly!

To find find out how to fly the flag and other flag etiquette, see USFlagstore's  Flag Etiquette 101 and USFlagstore's How to Fly the Flag at Half-Staff.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Colorado: Unsinkable, Original and Beautiful!

John Denver, c. 1975 on Rollingstone

In 1972 ... a young musician named John Denver (1943-1977) recorded a song about Colorado and made the state's beauty famous for his generation. His 1972 song, Rocky Mountain High (click here for video link), eventually became one of the two state songs.

Over 100 years earlier ... 
Albert Bierstsdt Lander's Peak, 1863 (click here)
In 1859, a young German American toured the western United States and fell in love with its landscapes. Over the years, Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) would share the beauty of Colorado and the Wild West in luminous paintings for his generation.

The state flag of Colorado, the 38th state
Colorado was brought into the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1803 and between the years 1848 and 1850, it became a territory that fell under the jurisdiction of some 8 other territories (Colorado.gov): Indiana Territory, Louisiana Territory, Missouri Territory, Utah Territory, New Mexico Territory, Nebraska Territory, Kansas Territory and, finally, on February 28, 1863, Colorado Territory (Colorado.gov). 

Also in 1863, the first bill was written for Colorado's statehood. It was vetoed. Between 1863-1873, its statehood petition was vetoed some 8 different times. On August 1, 1876, after strong support by President Ulysses S. Grant (click here), Colorado became the 38th state!

Colorado's history is as rich as Colorado's gold rush. It contains a history of male and female pioneers. One of whom includes Molly Brown (click here), best known from the musical biography of her life, The Unsinkable Molly Brown.
The "unsinkable" Molly Brown (Photo: loc.gov)

While the musical does cover Brown's rags to riches story, her attempts to enter Denver society, and her surviving the sinking of the Titanic, it skips lightly over how serious she was about politics and social reform, such as her 1901 run for the state Senate (before women could even vote) and her work for suffrage. (Colorado, by the way, was the second state to give women the vote. Wyoming was the first.)

Molly Brown and Mother Jones (click here) are two very different ends of the socio-political spectrum but both came together over Colorado mining/ labor law. It was the Ludlow Massacre (click here), to be precise, which found the wealthy social progressive, Molly Brown, and the politically active firebrand, Mother Jones, defending miners' rights ... and undoubtedly annoying mine owner John D. Rockefeller (click here) with their criticism of him in the process.

Mother Jones actually was present at the fiasco that became the Ludlow Massacre; Brown subsequently raised relief for surviving victims of the massacre and advocated for reforms in mining labor law.
Unadulterated Mother Jones (Photo: Sangres.com)
And yes, that Mother Jones is the same Mother Jones for whom the magazine is named!

Mother Jones, August 2011 cover


Back to the flag ...
The Colorado state flag (click here) was designed by Andrew Carlisle Johnson and adopted in 1911. Over the years, there have been some modifications of the flag but they have served the purpose of clarifying its size, color and dimensions. The colors are the same colors as the national flag with 3 horizontal stripes forming the field (a white stripe is in-between the top and bottom blue stripes). Near the middle is a simple but easy-to-read, crimson "C". Inside the "C" is a gold disc, probably referencing Colorado's gold rush history.
The Colorado state flag (click here) is 100!
From the Ute Bear Dance (Photo: HisotryColorado.org)

The Colorado Historical society has an exceptional website @ www.historycolorado.org for state history, state museums, and historic sites. It is informative as well as rich with events and programs, online exhibits as well as on location!

 Let it fly!
 To find find out how to fly the flag and other flag etiquette, see USFlagstore's  Flag Etiquette 101 and USFlagstore's How to Fly the Flag at Half-Staff.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ahoy, Maties! It's Coast Guard Day!

As I write this blog, the night is cool. The air is scented with pine.  The ocean is gently lapping against the shore. Boats rock and creak.

The day was sunny and warm – not hot, not humid – just sunny and warm. It was pretty perfect. But it could have been chilly, or rainy, or foggy. It could, in fact, have been all three at once. This is, of course, the great state of Maine in the summertime. More specifically, I am on a little island outside of Rockland, Maine, one of the nation's few "Coast Guard Cities".

Until recently, I never knew Rockland was a Coast Guard City, an official "second home" to its local Coast Guard members and their families. All I knew was that the Coast Guard licenses all these ferries, their captains and their crew; the Coast Guard is responsible for running emergency medical evacuations off of any one of Maine's hundreds of islands; and all too frequently, the Coast Guard gets those calls about sailors who are in trouble.

If you live on any coastline long enough, the truth is that you eventually will have your own Coast Guard story. If you are lucky, it will only be a tale to "dine out on."

Rockland: A Coast Guard City (Photo: Bob Trapani, Jr.)

To see what the designation "Coast Guard City" can mean to a community, watch this video of Rockland, Maine celebrating its designation as an official Coast Guard City:

Rockland becomes a Coast Guard City! 

The best Coast Guard Day in the country ...

The USCGC Mackinaw, August 2, 2011
There are a total of 12 official Coast Guard Cities (the full list is below) but the most famous of them all is Grand Haven, Michigan.

Grand Haven is the very first Coast Guard City and home to the biggest Coast Guard Day festival in the country. In fact, Coast Guard Day in Grand Haven does not just last one day. It lasts several days!

Invariably, Coast Guard Day begins with a parade of ships. For this year's inside tour, the USCGC icebreaker Mackinaw was docking in Grand Haven.

Check out this video tour. It's hot off the deck!

USRC McClane, c. 1832, by James Guy Evans (USCG images)
A brief history of the Coast Guard ... 
It's August 4, 1790. The Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, orders 10 cutters to be built. Their job will be to patrol and collect the new nation's tariffs or taxes on the high seas.

With that first order of 10 swift cutters, the United States Coast Guard was born!

In 1790, the Coast Guard was called the Revenue Cutter Service. It also was known as the Revenue Marine Service and was the nation's only Navy until 1798. The Coast Guard didn't become the U.S. Coast Guard until 1915.

For over 150 years, it stayed under the direction of the Treasury Department. In 1967, it moved to the Dept. of Transportation. In times of peace, it is part of Homeland Security. In times of war, it serves under the Navy and at the direction of the President.

No matter its name or department, the U.S. Coast Guard is and always has been an official  branch of the U.S. military. According to the U.S. Coast Guard's historian, the Coast Guard holds two simultaneous positions: it is part law enforcement and part of our armed forces. Its job is complex, unusual and probably taken for granted. 

According to the Coast Guard historian (www.uscg.mil/history), this is what the Coast Guard does:

The U.S. Coast Guard flag
We save lives. We protect the environment. We defend the homeland. We enforce Federal laws on the high seas, the nation's coastal waters and its inland waterways. We are unique in the Nation and the world. 
We ... served proudly in every one of the nation's conflicts. Our national defense responsibilities remain one of our most important functions ... [We also serve] as the nation's front-line agency for enforcing the nation's laws at sea, protecting the marine environment and the nation's vast coastline and ports, and saving life.
You are so busted!
US Coast Guard and FBI bust a drug sub (Photo: USCG)

The 12 official Coast Guard Cities ...
Grand Haven, MI
Eureka , CA
Mobile , AL
Wilmington , NC
Newport , OR
Alameda, CA
Kodiak, AK
Rockland, ME
Portsmouth, VA
Traverse City, MI
Astoria, OR
Sitka, AK

Happy Coast Guard Day!
Semper paratus – always ready

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The New York State Flag: Designed by Revolutionaries

Romantic revolutionaries ...
The flag of the state of New York is based upon its first state seal and an official state coat of arms. Though the design dates to 1777, there have been five versions.
The first seal of New York featured the sun behind mountains.

The first official state seal was designed by three men, including John Jay, one of the authors of the Federalist Papers and the first Chief Justice of the United States; and Gouverneur Morris who is credited as being the "pen" behind the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, specifically the language, "We the people..." While Morris was a revolutionary, other family members such as his mother and sisters remained Tories.

Governor George Clinton and Chancellor Livingston designed the second seal in 1778 which incorporated an official state coat of arms.
The NY coat of arms: romantic and revolutionary

This coat of arms is an idealized version of New York rendered in soft blues, greens and purples. It features a mountain with a sun shining behind it, imagery found in the original seal of 1777. In front of the mountain is the mighty Hudson River with two ships sailing. In general, the coat of arms depicts an image of prosperity as well as peace.

Underneath the coat of arms is a banner and the Latin phrase Excelsior which translates to "ever upward" or "onward and upward." Above the coat of arms is a globe and an eagle with wings outspread.

A Phrygian or Liberty cap (libertycap.org)
The figure of Liberty is on the left of the coat of arms, and the figure of Justice is on the right. Justice, of course, is blindfolded and holds a sword in one hand and the scales of justice in the other. At Liberty's feet is a crown representing both the split with England and the belief that man has a right to self-rule.  In Liberty's hand is a Phrygian or "Liberty" cap. Traditionally, a Liberty cap is depicted in red although that may have become the tradition during the French Revolution which also made use of this ancient symbol that dates to Greco-Roman times. 

The final seal was designed in 1898 and like the first Great Seal of New York, it was designed by a triumvirate. One of these designers was Alonzo B. Cornell, the eldest of the four sons of Ezra Cornell, founder of Cornell University and co-founder of Western Union.

In his own right, Alonzo Cornell contributed to New York in the field of politics. Cornell was a political appointee of President Ulysses S. Grant. He was president of the NY state Republican party, a member of the NY State Assembly, and the first new member of the state assembly to be elected as its Speaker. From 1880-1882, Cornell was governor. (Succeeding Cornell as governor, by the way, was an up and coming politician named Grover Cleveland.)

His history is interesting not only for his personal accomplishments or even those of his father but because he is a member of a privileged social set that, in addition to enjoying socio-economic benefits, also grew up with the belief that one should give back and contribute to society, to community, to the greater good.
NY's flag, designed by revolutionaries with a classical sense of symbolism
New York is the 11th of the original 13 colonies to become a state. It was granted statehood July 26, 1788.   

The New York state flag, straightforward and simple, is a flag born out of revolution and created by revolutionaries.

Excelsior as poetry ...
Longfellow, the voice of a nation (Photo: poets.org)
One charming story about the New York state motto is that the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow saw the state seal in a newspaper and was taken by the motto "Excelsior". The full story is that this inspired Longfellow's poem Excelsior, a staple of by-gone classrooms (wikipedia.org). 

Excelsior is about a boy in a foreign land carrying a flag with the legend "Excelsior" on it.  He is urged to stay and rest but he continues on, despite the warnings.  He is found the next day still clutching the flag "with its strange device." Beside him is an ever-faithful St. Bernard.

The full text of Longfellow's poem, Excelsior (1841) can be found in The Yale Book of American Verse, ed. Thomas Lounsbury (online source is courtesy of www.bartleby.com):

The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,

His brow was sad; his eye beneath,
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,

In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,

"Try not the Pass!" the old man said;

"Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
The roaring torrent is deep and wide!"
And loud that clarion voice replied,

"O stay," the maiden said, "and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast!"
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,

"Beware the pine tree's withered branch!
Beware the awful avalanche!"
This was the peasant's last Good-night,
A voice replied, far up the height,

At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air,

A traveller, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,

There in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell, like a falling star,

Let It Fly!
To find find out how to fly the flag and other flag etiquette, see USFlagstore's  Flag Etiquette 101 and USFlagstore's How to Fly the Flag at Half-Staff.