History Lessons

History lessons is a grouping of historical stories and tidbits. The topics range from the American Civil War through interesting items from around the world. Please use the comments area to ask questions and make suggestions for future topics.

History Lessons

Lincoln and the errant flag

Lincoln's first inauguration with a flag flapping wildly in the wind. (wikipedia.org)

A previous article about American flags and Inauguration Days through the decades described how presidential ceremonies have often featured multiple banners and plenty of bunting to decorate the special day. An example in that article was Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address in 1865. His short, 700-word speech is renowned for his offer of reconciliation toward… continue

History Lessons

Inaugurations require flags

Surrounded by patriotic images, FDR takes his oath.

The inauguration of President Donald J. Trump calls to mind many flag-bedecked ceremonies of the past. Here’s a sampling: 1865 Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration brought out flags, partly to salute him and partly to celebrate the upcoming end of the Civil War. A Washington newspaper reported that “the national flag in some shape, mammoth or… continue

History Lessons

Eulogy for a man who loved flags

Whitney Smith (wikipedia.org)

Anyone fascinated with flags – the American flag, foreign flags, flag laws and even a flag-related word he invented – should be interested in the life of Whitney Smith, who spent his 76 years adoring, studying, collecting and creating banners. When Smith died last November, The New York Times saluted him as a man “whose… continue

History Lessons

Two I’s saw statehood coming

Paul Hadley looks on as an artist applies gold leaf to the state flag. (Mooresville Public Library)

Merry Christmas, joyous New Year – and happy anniversary to two states celebrating their entries into the Union. In this case, the “I’s” have it: Indiana and Iowa. Eventually, but not immediately, both created state flags. INDIANA Two hundred years ago, the United States welcomed Indiana into the fold as it became the 19th state…. continue

History Lessons

Flags…before and after Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor under attack. (Library of Congress)

Seventy-five years ago, on December 7, 1941, Imperial Japan’s air force attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, triggering the entry of the United States into World War II. The early morning attack occurred on a Sunday, as most Americans, unaware of what was happening several time zones away, opened their morning newspapers, where they read articles… continue