Monday, May 25, 2009

The anti-Confederate and pro-democratic American flag

I have been working on an anti-Confederate flag design for some time. I have thought about it in terms of the history of American flags with anti-Confederate meaning such as the Phalanx flag and others. The above is the anti-Confederate flag. The right side of the flag has a swallowtail ends.


The anti-Confederate flag was designed with several considerations in mind to make sure it would be a very good anti-Confederate flag.


First, the anti-Confederate flag shouldn’t contain a Confederate flag. For example there have been attempts to design an anti-Confederate symbol by putting the international prohibition sign over the Confederate battle flag. As a design it doesn’t work out well since the Confederate battle flag has a cross on it and the slash in the prohibition sign goes over a cross bar in the Confederate flag. Additionally from a distance it looks like you are wearing the Confederate flag. We don’t want to wear Confederate flags, not even with prohibition signs. Also, we want our flag to express pro-democratic values and not just a negation of the Confederate flag. We want to be for something in opposition to the Confederate flag.

Second, we want to have this flag be accessible to everyone, a flag that everyone who is for democratic values can call his or her own. We want an anti-Confederate and pro-American democratic flag that doesn’t exclude anyone and draws together different people to be united in their opposition to the Confederate flag and neo-Confederacy. The flag can’t specifically oriented to any one group in society since that would make it one group’s flag and hence not others’ flag.

Third, we want a flag that is distinctive from other flags and not likely to be confused with any other flag.

Fourth, we want a flag that is readily recognizable and stands out and draws attention.

Fifth, it needs to be a flag with a design compatible with flag design.

Sixth, it would be nice if it drew on anti-Confederate flags in history.

Seventh, the flag should have an appealing design so that people want to wear it because it has an appealing design.

Anti-Confederate Flags in History
During the Civil War there were many anti-Confederate flags. These were modified American flags. Some Americans rearranged the stars in the phalanxes or square pattern symbolizing readiness to face attacks on America from any direction.[1] The popularity of flying an American flag started with the Civil War. Prior to the Civil War American flags were flown at Federal buildings such as the Post Office. With the Civil War the manufacturers were suddenly faced with a tremendous demand for American flags which people flew as anti-Confederate flags. The American flag with or without modifications was seen as the anti-Confederate flag.[2]

The nickname “Old Glory” for the American flag comes from one Civil War episode. Capt. Driver, a retired sea captain, who moved to Tennessee in the Nashville area before the Civil War, had taken with him in his retirement the American flag he had flown on his ship. He was very proud of this flag and exhibited it frequently and called it “Old Glory.” When the Civil War broke out his flag was threatened and he hid it inside a quilt. When the American armies liberated Nashville, he was brought before the liberating troops and Capt. Driver exhibited his flag. This episode was picked up by the press at the time and though Capt. Driver and his flag are largely forgotten, the nickname “Old Glory” is still remembered.[3]

The Confederates saw the American flag as an Anti-Confederate flag. Mobs in New Orleans tore down an American flag and dragged it through the mud of the streets and then “tore it to shreds, and distributed the pieces among the crowd.” In Memphis the burial of the American flag was publicly celebrated.[4]

Unfortunately, with the overthrow of the multi-racial democracy of Reconstruction and the nation rejecting an Abolitionist vision of America, by the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan felt comfortable flying the American flag and even claimed that they were representative of 100% Americanism. So the American flag by itself has lost an anti-Confederate meaning.

The Phalanx flag and Capt. Drivers flags can’t be used since they are so similar to an American flag they aren’t distinctive and readily recognized as being something other than an American flag.

The Anti-Confederate Pro-American Flag Design
This anti-Confederate flag meets all seven of the considerations listed above. One, it doesn’t contain a Confederate flag. Two, it is for every one of all backgrounds, it isn’t specific to one group. Three, it is certainly distinctive from any other flag. Four, it is readily recognizable, even from a distance. Five, it is compatible with flag design. Six, it draw on the Civil War history of Anti-Confederate flags by being based on the American flag. Finally, Seven, it is a design that is appealing to people.

It isn’t just a flag against something, is a flag for the modern multi-racial democratic America against the anti-democratic and racist values of the Confederacy.

It has fifty stars in a blue region like the American flag and has red and white strips like the American flag. However, both the blue canton of the American flag and the stripes has been transformed. This gives the flag a novel and distinctive appearance so it won’t be confused with an American flag, but still will suggest the American flag. It is also an energetic pattern suggestive of an active struggle against neo-Confederacy. The swallowtail ends of the flag on the right side give the flag charm and further novelty.

[1] The Phalanx pattern is shown on page 131 in “The Stars and the Stripes: The American Flag as Art and as History from the Birth of the Republic to the Present,” published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1973.
[2] Guenter, Scot M., “The American Flag, 1777-1924: Cultural Shifts from Creation to Codification,” Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1990. For history of the American flag during the Civil War is Chapter 4, “Symbol of the Union: Flag Use During the Civil War,” pages 66-87. For changes in flag manufacturing to supply demand during the Civil War page 89-90.
[3] Harrison, Peleg D., “The Stars and Strips and Other American Flags,” pub. Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1917, pages 304-307.
[4] Preble, George Henry, “Origin and History of the American Flag,” 2nd Edition, Vol. II, pub. Nicholas Brown, Philadelphia, 1917, pages 468-493.

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