Flags of the United States: Twenty-Second U.S Flag, on July 4, 1891
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Flags of the United States: Twenty-Second U.S Flag, on July 4, 1891


By Jon R. Warren

Almost a year after the admission of Wyoming as the forty-fourth state, the twenty-second United States flag was raised on July 4, 1891. It flew for five years.

The prosperity and growth of the 1880s came to an abrupt end in 1890, a year that was a prelude to even more serious economic and political troubles. The farmers Alliances of the Midwest and the knights of Labor joined in 1892 to form the populist party and nominate a presidential candidate. Although the Democratic candidates, grover cleveland, won the election, the populists continued to grow, taking strength from the Democratic party.

By 1893 the frantic growth of  the previous decade finally collapsed and severe depression set in. Banks failed and industries folded, throwing many men out of work. In Chicago the pullman strike of 1894 over wage cuts quickly escalated into violence, and order was restored only after the arrival of Federal troops. The strike gave prominence to a new political figure. Eugene V. Debs, the first labor leader to be jailed under the new court injunction against strikes.

In the midst of the depression, respectable ohio businessman Jacob S. Coxey organized the Commonweal of Christ. The march to Washington, D.C., by this unarmed brigade of the unemployed, better known as Coxey's Army, is shown in the illustration. Conservatively dressed Coxey' and about one hundred followers left Massillon, Ohio, on Easter sunday 1894. His second-in-command, a former carnival barker named Carl Browne, rode along dressed in buckskin. Hundreds joined them along the way, and many others provided food and lodging, The army reached Washington on April 26 and President Cleveland and congress both refused then an audience. Coxey and his men marched to the Capital on May 1 but were refused admittance. After attempting to read a petition emphazising the desperate plight of the unemployed, Coxey was arrested for walking on the Capitol grass. He was jailed for a brief time and returned to Ohio where he remained active in politics. The incident was an expression of the economic problems of the country.

The depression continued in spite of the government's attempts to curb it. It continued through 1896, a Presidential election year when the Republicans, the party out of power, boasted that they could elect a rag doll to the White House. They nominated amiable William McKinley of Ohio. The Democrats, in an attempt to capitalize on Populist strength, adopted many Populist proposals and nominated William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska, the "Boy Orator of the Platte."Most of the Populists agreed with the new Democratic platform and supported Bryan.

Meanwhile, on January 4, 1896, Utah was admitted as the forty-fifth state. In the midst of the election campaigning, the forty-four star flag was lowered on July 3, 1896.


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