Flags of the United States: Twenty-First U.S Flag, July 4, 1890
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Flags of the United States: Twenty-First U.S Flag, July 4, 1890


By Jon R. Warren

The admission of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington and Idaho in 1889 and 1890 called for a new flag 
bearing forty-three stars. This was the second time five stars had been added to the stars and stripes at one time. 
Raised on July 4, 1890, the new flag during a year of many changes and one which saw the beginning of a tradition, the 
Army-Navy football game. The first of these gridiron classics, played that year, is shown in the illustration.

The thirty-eight star had flown from 1877 until 1890, a boom period in American history. By the time the new flag was 
raised, prosperity was beginning to ebb. The Republicans had maintained power for a quarter of a century after the Civil 
War, becoming the "Grant Old Party." Ruled by men who prospered with the growth of the country, the government 
largely ignored the indications of the approaching economic crisis.

In the late 1880s a prolonged series of disasters threatened farming in the Midwest. For example, although the early 
1880s had been prosperous years for Kansas farmers, drought withered the corn in 1887 and a recession followed. 
After this, villages built along railroad lines during the successful years and many Midwestern farms were abandoned.

The desperate farmers formed a fraternal and economic brotherhood, the Farmers' Alliance, and supported their own 
political candidates. Such figures as Mary Lease, the "Kansas pythoness," whose rallying cry was "raise less corn and 
more hell" and Jerry Simpson, the "sock less Socrates," assumed leadership. Simpson was elected to the Senate in 
1890. The Farmers' Alliance later joined with the Knights of Labor to form the Peoples or Populist Party. 

The "New South" of developing industry became allied with the industrial North. At the same time, farm wealth was 
declining. Angry leaders, such as Tom Watson of Georgia, found agrarian allies in the West. Watson was elected to 
Congress in 1890 on the platform of the Farmers' Alliance. He soon declared himself a Populist and eventually ran for 
President as the Populist party candidate in 1904.

In spite of this discontent, the time for change had not come. Yet the developments of the pivotal year of 1890 were 
fundamental to the changes of the next decade.

The forty-three star flag became ourdated in six days by the admission of Wayoming on July 10, 1890, too late to have 
been represented on the flag. The forty-three star flag was replaced on July 3, 1891.

This article has been read 3953 times. Last read on 1/17/2021 6:04:30 AM

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