Division of the Stars and Stripes

When the U.S. Southern States announced their secession from the Federal Union, some urged the new President, Abraham Lincoln, to remove the stars of the rebellious states from the Stars and Stripes.  Lincoln refused.  He maintained the Southern States could not withdraw from the Union.  Therefore, logically their stars could not be removed from the flag.  To do so would give legitimacy to their claim of secession.

Others did not agree.  One suggestion seems particularly bizarre.  Samuel F. B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph asked, “…what is to become of the flag of the union . . .”?  He did not believe in coercion to maintain the Union.  He suggested that the flag, like the map, be divided giving each “confederacy” one half of the stripes and the appropriate number of stars.  Morse prophesied that at some future time the two nations would reunite and the two flags “…would clasp fittingly together, and the glorious old flag of the union, in its entirely, would be hoisted, once more embracing all the sister states.”

Flag of the North.

Flag of the South.

Lincoln refused Morse’s suggestion.  The war over the division of the map and the flag took five bitter years of battle and death to resolve.  This established, as the Pledge of Allegiance later clearly defined, that we are “one nation indivisible.”

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