The Somerville Times Historical Fact of the Week – April 13

On April 13, 2016, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

eagle_webEagle Feathers #101 – Out of Many, One

By Bob (Monty) Doherty

Most people realize that Somerville is and always has been a land of immigrants. If you didn’t come from a foreign country, then your ancestors probably did. Early on they came here in what was called the great migration, which took place during the 1620’s and 1630’s. Governor John Winthrop and his Puritan followers were looking for the “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow … freedom of life and religion.

They sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to America under a flag that represented two nations, England and Scotland. The English flag was the red cross of Saint George on a white field.

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The Scottish flag was the white X-shaped cross of Saint Andrew on a field of blue.

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These symbols were reminiscent of the Crusades. In 1607 the overlapping of these two flags produced a new flag, The Union Jack. It was the first flag of Great Britain.

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A century and a half later at the outbreak of our revolution, Americans were unsure of complete separation from the motherland. Leaders combined the British Union Jack with 13 stripes representing the American colonies to form America’s first colonial flag, the Grand Union. This flag had seven stripes of red alternating with six stripes of white and was first flown at the fort on Prospect Hill. It was raised on a 76-foot flagpole, fashioned from the mast of the captured English ship, HMS Diana.

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On January 1, 1776, the first day of the “Spirit of 76,” in the presence of General George Washington and his troops, a flag-raising ceremony gave birth to the American Army. In the ensuing eight-year war, the British lost its hold on our country and on our flag. Early on, as time went by and our country grew, stars replaced the British Union Jack. Today our flag has a sea of fifty stars, which complement the original thirteen stripes of the Somerville Standard. They both bring to life the image of the American motto, E pluribus unum … out of many, one.

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