"the thirteen stripes turned vertically, instead of horizontally, and thus indicating that a civil, and not a military post of Uncle Sam’s government, is here established"

The American flag was first officially adopted in 1777. At this time, it comprised thirteen red and white stripes, representing the thirteen colonies which had achieved independence from British rule, and thirteen stars on a blue background signifying the states of the newly-formed Union. Since then, the flag has been amended numerous times as new states have been established and incorporated into the Union. In 1850, there were thirty stars. As Hawthorne says, the flag is hung vertically to indicate a civil office. It is always hung so that the blue canton is in the upper left corner.


Illustration from a Whig campaign song sheet (1848)
Public DomainIllustration from a Whig campaign song sheet (1848) - Credit: Horton & Co.

Uncle Sam is the personification of the American government. He made his debut in American cultural mythology during the War of 1812, and was based on Samuel Wilson, a New York meat packer. His appearance wasn’t standardized until 1917 when James Montgomery Flagg’s famous army recruitment poster formed the template for subsequent depictions. This 1848 illustration shows him banishing the Democrats from office to make way for Zachary Taylor, a Whig candidate.