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.

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