2010 44¢ Flags of Our Nation
Strip of 10
The Flags of Our Nation stamp series honors each state in our great nation. The coil stamps picture individual state flags along with images that transmit the character of the state being honored.
American Flag and Mountains
When schoolteacher Katharine Bates looked out from the summit of Colorado’s Pikes Peak and east over the Great Plains, she was moved to write what would become one of America’s most beloved songs, “America the Beautiful.” Around her lay the purple mountain majesties – tall and snowcapped, a direct contrast to the sea of grain below.
In 1898, the First Montana Regiment went to battle in the Philippines. The regiment’s commander, Colonel Harry Kessler, felt the troops needed something special to distinguish them from other units. He privately commissioned a flag for the unit that showed the state seal, with “1st Montana Inft’y U.S.V.” above the seal.
When they returned to Montana in 1899, Kessler’s flag captured the attention of the public. Six years later, the Montana state legislature adopted that flag as the official state flag, with the regiment’s name removed.
Professor Samuel Aughey and Charles Dana Wilber described the state of Nebraska as a garden and declared “Rainfall follows the plow.” That claim inspired an influx of settlers, and soon Nebraska was being plowed. But the prairie grass that served as an anchor for the soil was soon buried. Heavy winds that often swept the plains dried the exposed soil into dust, then lifted it into great rolling clouds called “black blizzards.”
This history is commemorated on Nebraska’s flag, which features the state seal on a blue background. The seal showcases the importance of agriculture to the state’s prosperity.
The politics of the Civil War weighed heavily in Nevada achieving statehood. There was a rush to grant the territory statehood in order to help President Abraham Lincoln’s re-election bid in 1864. To that end, the entire state constitution was sent by telegraph to Washington, D.C. It was a process that took more than seven hours to transmit. Statehood was gained just eight days before the election, with the Civil War still raging. This led to Nevada’s nickname “Battle Born,” which is featured on the state flag.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was a thriving center for shipbuilding by the time of the American Revolution. When the Continental Congress decided to create a Navy, the first three ships were built on John Langdon’s shipyard on an island in Portsmouth Bay.
Langdon’s shipyard didn’t stay in New Hampshire long. The facility is still in Portsmouth Bay, but in 1820 the island became part of Kittery, Maine, as the new state entered the Union. That was long after the New Hampshire legislature voted in 1784 to make the Raleigh and the shipyard on the island the focus of its state seal.
New Jersey’s early agricultural heritage is strongly reflected on its state flag, which bears the classical themes found in the state seal. Three plows are on the face of the center shield, which is flanked by Ceres, the Roman Goddess of Agriculture and Plenty. In her arms she carries a cornucopia, a legendary horn holding a never-ending supply of food. The horn holds the fruits and grains that are found in New Jersey.
The flag’s design has the state seal set against a buff-colored background, a pattern influenced by General George Washington. During the American Revolution, Washington ordered Colonial military units to carry two flags – one for the new nation and one for their state flag. That state flag would be in the colors of the inside of the troops’ uniforms.
In 1920, the Daughters of the American Revolution suggested a design to represent New Mexico’s unique heritage. They proposed using an ancient symbol for the sun found on a Zia Pueblo water jar in the late 19th century. The resulting flag has a circle that represents the unending cycles of love and life connecting the four points of the sun. The Spanish heritage in the region is acknowledged by using the traditional family colors of Queen Isabella of Spain – red for the design, set on a yellow background.
Two women grace the state flag and seal of New York – one of them named Liberty, and the other called Justice. Justice is blindfolded, with sword and scale in hand to represent impartiality and fairness. Liberty stands with her hair free and unbound, holding a staff with a yellow cap on it.
North Carolina historians say the Declaration of Independence was written a year after the true first separation from England was declared – the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.
The Mecklenburg Declaration, called “Mec Dec,” was signed on May 20, 1775, in reaction to the Battles of Concord and Lexington. The group wrote, “...we the citizens of Mecklenburg County, do hereby... absolve ourselves from all bonds to the British Crown.” The North Carolina State Flag proclaims May 20th, 1775, as an important day in state history.
The regimental flag of the North Dakota Infantry was adopted as the state flag, with the addition of a scroll with “North Dakota” written on it. The legislature passed a resolution in 1911. The flag includes a bald eagle holding an olive branch and arrows in its claws. It carries a banner in its mouth which reads, “One nation made up of many states.”