We the People of the United States, actually have two national flags, a civil flag for peacetime and a military flag for times of war. They have several important distinctions and meanings.
The Stars and Stripes:
Today almost all Americans think of the Stars and Stripes "Old Glory" as their only flag. This has become the custom since the Civil War between the States. Before the war, many Americans had not seen the National Flag and almost as many did not know its contenance, unless they lived in large cities. It was the exposiure of "Old Glory" to the soldiers of the Union that forced a general familiarity of the flag on Americans. After the war the soldiers took their personal memories back to their homes across the country and also the memory of The Stars and Stripes. Through usage, custom, and law horizontal stripes had become adopted for use over military posts and in battle. It represented the authority of the US Military, military jurisdiction under admiralty/military law, now the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
However, another National flag, representing constitutional authority, had been adopted in 1799 and by 1800 was in use by merchants and Citizens who could afford one. It represented the authority of the US Constitution, common law, and peace. From the time of the Civil War The Federal Government has discouraged the flying of the Civil Flag of Peace. It has been called The Stars and Bars and The Civil Flag of Peace. It became a true rarity by 1920. American History records that it existed and was in use; although educational History text books hardly mention it, if at all. Today it is not physically recognized by Americans and they do not understand what it represents.
The Stars and Stripes originated as a result of a resolution adopted by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia on June 14, 1777, for use on military installations, on ships, and in battle, directing that a U.S. flag consist of 13 stripes, alternating red and white; that a union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.
Prior to, during the War for Independence, and after under the Articles of Confederation, smuggling was seen as a patriotic duty of the citizens of the thirteen independent and sovereign states, but after the ratification of the Constitution and the establishment of a new nation, smuggling needed to be stopped. The new nation depended on the revenue from customs tariffs, duties and taxes on imported goods in order to survive.
In 1790, with the customs laws firmly in place, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton set to work devising adequate means of enforcing the year-old regulations. "A few armed vessels, judiciously stationed at the entrances of our ports," Hamilton suggested, "might at a small expense be made useful sentinels of our laws." Congress concurred, and that year appropriated $10,000 to build and maintain a fleet of ten revenue cutters, which were to be placed under the charge of the customs collectors, whose responsibilities would be enforcement of the tariff laws. Along with financial responsibility, Hamilton demanded that the officers be servants of the people. "They [the officers] will always keep in mind that their Countrymen are Freemen and as such are impatient of everything that bears that least mark of a domineering Spirit."
Nine years later, Congress refined the revenue cutters' role in customs operations with the passage of the Act of March 2, 1799, known as the Customs Administration Act. In particular, Congress determined "the cutters and boats employed in the service of the revenue shall be distinguished from other vessels by "an ensign and pendant, with such marks thereon as shall be prescribed and directed by the President of the United States." Additionally, the Act permitted commanders of revenue vessels to fire at other vessels failing to respond "after such pendant and ensign shall be hoisted and a gun fired by such revenue cutter as a signal." By this act the Revenue Marine (later called the Revenue Cutter Service) ensign served as the seagoing equivalent of a policeman's badge, the distinctive sign of the vessel's law enforcement authority.
The job of designing the distinguishing ensign eventually fell upon Oliver Wolcott, who had replaced Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury in 1795. On June 1, 1799, Wolcott submitted his design to President John Adams for approval. Wolcott's proposal featured an ensign of sixteen stripes, alternating red and white, representing the number of states that had joined the Union by 1799, with the Union to be the Arms of the United States in dark blue on a white field. It is significant that Wolcott turned the arrangement of the stripes ninety degrees to vertical to differentiate the new revenue cutter ensign from the U.S. Flag, to denote civilian authority under the Treasury Department, rather than military authority under the War Department.
The Stars and Bars:
|US Civil Flag|
Vertical stripes were adopted for use over civilian establishments. The Civil Flag, intended for peacetime use in custom house civilian settings, has vertical stripes with blue stars on a white field. By the Law of the Flag, this design denoted civil jurisdiction under the Constitution and common law. Although intended for Customs house usage, the new Civil Flag became adopted by both customhouses and merchants, and others who could afford them, to show their civilian nature and not under military control. The practice of using the Customs Flag as a Civil Flag became encoded in law in 1874 when Treasury Secretary William. A. Richardson required all customhouses to display the Civil Flag.
On May 26, 1913, with the approval of Senate Bill S. 2337, (shortly after the fraudulent declaration by Secretary of State Philander Knox, that the 16th Amendment had been ratified, and during the same weeks that the Federal Reserve system and the IRS were established) the U.S. Coast Guard absorbed the Revenue Cutter and the Life Saving - Lighthouse Services, becoming a part of the military forces of the United States, operating under the Treasury Department in time of peace and as a part of the Navy, subject to the orders of the Secretary of the Navy, in time of war.
The Civil Flag used by the cutter service was modified, placing the Coast Guard insignia on the stripes in the field , and was adopted under Coast Guard authority, losing it's original significance of civilian authority, which by then had long been forgotten. As the Federal government acquired more control over the States and their citizens during and after World War II, by 1951 the original Civil Flag had been phased out completely, it's existence left as an artifact of time in a few old photographs and a rare mention in old books.
Today, the last vestige of the Civil Flag, the U.S. Coast Guard flag, being under the civil jurisdiction of the Department of Treasury during peacetime, is identical to the revenue cutter ensign, but with the service insignia emblazoned on the stripes in the field. It is still seen as the shoulder patch of U.S. Customs employees but it too now has the gold fringe signifying Admiralty/Military/Law Merchant jurisdiction.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850 before the War Between The States has this description of the U.S. Civil Flag in the introduction, "The Custom House"
http://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Nathaniel_Hawthorne/The_Scarlet_Letter/THE_CUSTOM_HOUSE_p1.html, Page 1 of 21
"It is a little remarkable, that--though disinclined to talk overmuch of myself and my affairs at the fireside, and to my personal friends--an autobiographical impulse should twice in my life have taken possession of me, in addressing the public. The first time was three or four years since, when I favoured the reader--inexcusably, and for no earthly reason that either the indulgent reader or the intrusive author could imagine--with a description of my way of life in the deep quietude of an Old Manse. And now--because, beyond my deserts, I was happy enough to find a listener
or two on the former occasion--I again seize the public by the button, and talk of my three years' experience in a Custom-House. The example of the famous "P. P. , Clerk of this Parish," was never more faithfully followed. The truth seems to be, however, that when he casts his leaves forth upon the wind, the author addresses, not the many who will fling aside his volume, or never take it up, but the few who will understand him better than most of his schoolmates or lifemates. Some authors, indeed, do far more than this, and indulge themselves in such confidential depths of revelation as could fittingly be addressed only and exclusively to the one heart and mind of perfect sympathy; as if the printed book, thrown at large on the wide world, were certain to find out the divided segment of the writer's own nature, and complete his circle of existence by bringing him into communion with it. It is scarcely decorous, however, to speak all, even where we speak impersonally. But, as thoughts are frozen and utterance benumbed, unless the speaker stand in some true relation with his audience, it may be pardonable to imagine that a friend, a kind and apprehensive, though not the closest friend, is listening to our talk; and then, a native reserve being thawed by this genial consciousness, we may prate of the circumstances that lie around us, and even of ourself, but still keep the inmost Me behind its veil. To this extent, and within these limits, an author, methinks,
may be autobiographical, without violating either the reader's rights or his own.
It will be seen, likewise, that this Custom-House sketch has a certain propriety, of a kind always recognised in literature, as explaining how a large portion of the following pages came into my possession, and as offering proofs of the authenticity of a narrative therein contained. This, in fact--a desire to put myself in my true position as editor, or very little more, of the most prolix among the tales that make up my volume--this, and no other, is my true reason for assuming a personal relation with the public. In accomplishing the main purpose, it has appeared allowable, by a few extra touches, to give a faint representation of a mode of life not heretofore described, together with some of the characters that move in it, among whom the author happened to make one.
In my native town of Salem, at the head of what, half a century ago, in the days of old King Derby, was a bustling wharf--but which is now burdened with decayed wooden warehouses, and exhibits few or no symptoms of commercial life; except, perhaps, a bark or brig, half-way down its melancholy length, discharging hides; or, nearer at hand, a Nova Scotia schooner, pitching out her cargo of firewood-- at the head, I say, of this dilapidated wharf, which the tide often overflows, and along which, at the base and in the rear of the row of buildings, the track of many languid years is seen in a border of unthrifty grass--here, with a view from its front windows adown this not very enlivening prospect, and thence across the harbour, stands a spacious edifice of brick. From the loftiest point of its roof, during precisely three and a half hours of each forenoon, floats or droops, in breeze or calm, the banner of the republic; but with 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. Its front is ornamented with a portico of half-a-dozen wooden pillars, supporting a balcony, beneath which a flight of wide granite steps descends towards the street Over the entrance hovers an enormous specimen of the American eagle, with outspread wings, a shield before her breast, and, if I recollect aright, a bunch of intermingled thunder- bolts and barbed arrows in each claw. With the customary infirmity of temper that characterizes this unhappy fowl, she appears by the fierceness of her beak and eye, and the general truculency of her attitude, to threaten mischief to the inoffensive community; and especially to warn all citizens careful of their safety against intruding on the premises which she overshadows with her wings. Nevertheless, vixenly as she looks, many people are seeking at this very moment to shelter themselves under the wing of the federal eagle; imagining, I presume, that her bosom has all the softness and snugness of an eiderdown pillow. But she has no great tenderness even in her best of moods, and, sooner or later--oftener soon than late--is apt to fling off her nestlings with a scratch of her claw, a dab of her beak, or a rankling wound from her barbed arrows."
Before 1940, few U.S. flags flew within the forty-eight states except in federal or Military settings and installations. Only state flags did. Since the 1935 institution of Social Security and the Buck Act of 1940, 4 U.S.C.S. Ch. 4 Sec. 104-113, by clever legal maneuvers the federal authorities have entirely circumvented the U.S. Constitution, and have overlaid federal territorial jurisdiction on the sovereign States, bringing them under the admiralty/military jurisdiction of Law Merchant, the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), the law of Creditors and Debtors.
Since then the U.S. military flag, a different hoist to fly ratio, appears beside, or in place of, the state flags in nearly all locations within the states. All of the state courts and even the municipal ones now openly display it. In the last half century Federal Government has more openly declared the military/admiralty law jurisdiction with the addition of the gold fringe to the flag, the military flag of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Such has been the path that has brought us under the Law of the Military Flag. This should have raised serious questions from many citizens long ago, but we have been educated to listen and believe what we are told, not to ask questions, or think for ourselves and search for the truth.