June 14, 2012 marks the 150thAnniversary of the State of Connecticut’s first observance of Connecticut Flag Day. June 14 was the day in 1777 that the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States. The original 1862 Connecticut General Assembly resolution, which is available on our Flickr site, challenges U.S. House Resolution 662 of 2004 which recognizes that Flag Day originated in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin where in 1885 school teacher Bernard John Cigrand urged his students to observe June 14 as the “Flag’s Birthday.”
The first known proposal for a national Flag Day celebration was made by Jonathan Flynt Morris of Hartford. In a speech before the Connecticut Society of Sons of the American Revolution delivered on June 15, 1891, Morris remembered how he first proposed the idea to Hartford Evening Press editor Charles Dudley Warner back in June 1861. According to Morris, he suggested to Warner, “the propriety of celebrating the day by public demonstration. He at once fell in with the idea. I said the flag and the constitution were both on trial, and it was the duty of every loyal man to sustain them.”
On June 10, 1861, Warner published the editorial titled “National Holidays”. He wrote, “And we have to suggest another day, worthy to become a national holiday. It may be too late for its general observance this year, but we hope that it will, in time, be recognized wherever the American flag floats. We mean FLAG DAY.” Other newspapers such as the Hartford Courant soon also voiced their support.
Some Connecticut towns embraced the idea. For example, the Hartford Courant reported on June 15 that in Hartford, “American Flags were the order of the day all over the city yesterday…Nearly all the leading dry-goods merchants made handsome displays.” The Courant also reported on June 18 that, “The people of Terryville celebrated Flag-day by having a speech…and a collation in a large new barn, appropriately decorated with the stars and stripes.”
A year later on June 6, 1862, Connecticut State Senator Henry K. W. Welch introduced a resolution that read, “Resolved. That we recommend to the people of this State to observe the 14th day of June and the 17thday of September in each year as holidays – the first to be known as Flag Day and the latter as Constitution Day.” The Senate passed the resolution on June 12 and the House of Representatives passed it on June 17, 1862. A similar resolution introduced that year into the U.S. Congress by Rep. Dwight Loomis of Connecticut was tabled.
Around 1893 it appears the General Assembly passed into law an act requiring schools to have lessons and exercises about the flag and also requiring the Governor to issue a proclamation every June 14 for Flag Day. Governor Henry Roberts issued the first known Flag Day proclamation on May 26, 1906 and the practice has been continued by governors to the present.
On the national level, President Woodrow Wilson issued a Proclamation on May 30, 1916 that June 14 be observed as Flag Day across the United States. On August 3, 1949, President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of every year as National Flag Day.
Connecticut General Assembly. Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Connecticut, May Session, 1862. New Haven: Babcock & Sizer, State Printer, 1862.
Connecticut General Assembly. Journal of the Senate of the State of Connecticut, May Session, 1862. New Haven: Babcock & Sizer, State Printer, 1862.
Connecticut Society of Sons of the American Revolution. The Lebanon War Office. The History of the Building, and Report of the Celebration at Lebanon, Conn., Flag Day, June 15, 1891. Hartford: The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1891.
Goodheart, Adam. “Unhappy Flag Day.” New York Times Opinionator, June 13, 2011. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/13/unhappy-flag-day/ (accessed June 1, 2012).
Harmon, Crag. “Flag Day in Connecticut.” Lincoln Highway National Museum & Archives. http://lincoln-highway-museum.org/PFDP/FD-Conn-Index.html (accessed June 1, 2012).
Harmon, Craig. “Flag Day in Harford.” Lincoln Highway National Museum & Archives. http://lincoln-highway-museum.org/PFDP/FD-Hartford-Index.html (accessed June 1, 2012).
Harmon, Crag. “History of Flag Day.” Lincoln Highway National Museum & Archives. http://lincoln-highway-museum.org/PFDP/FD230-Index.html (accessed June 1, 2012).
“Resolution de Observing 14th of June and 17th of September as Holidays.” Connecticut State Library, State Archives, RG 002:004, General Assembly Papers, Box 100, Folder 5.