January 28, 2016
Texas became the 28th state to enter the union on December 29, 1845. Texas was first founded by Spanish explorers, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, settling at Ysleta near El Paso in 1862. Robert Cavalier Sieur de la Salle later established a French colony at Matagorda Bay in 1685. In 1821, Stephen F. Austin led Americans to settle along the Brazos River when Texas was originally controlled by Mexico who gained their independence from Spain.
In 1835, the Texas Revolution began due to tensions between the settlers of Texas and Mexico. The first battle was the Battle of Gonzales in 1835, which was caused by a cannon. From 1836 to 1845, Texas was its own independent nation until it entered the union by treaty, the Treaties of Velasco (and the only state to do so).
Texas adopted their state flag before it became a state. The flag of Texas is known as the Lone Star flag, as it only has one star on their state flag and it was first used on their flag during the battles between Texas and Mexico in the 1830s. The star is located on a vertical blue stripe on the left hand side (taking up ⅓ of the flag) while a horizontal red and white stripe take up the remaining right side of the flag. Red symbolizes courage, white means liberty, and blue is for loyalty.
Texas Flag vs. Flag of Chile: The flags of Texas and the South American country of Chile are very similar and can sometimes be confused with one another. The only differences between the flags are that there is only a blue square on the left hand corner of the Chilean flag, the star inside the square is smaller, and the red horizontal stripe on the bottom is longer. Chile’s flag was adopted on October 18, 1817.
Texas is the second largest state in the US along with being the most populous.
January 14, 2016
In the very corner of the US is the 27th state to enter the Union, Florida, on March 3, 1845. Florida was founded in 1565 by Spanish settlers and the Spanish held this territory until it became a permanent US settlement in 1821. Northern state residents began to visit Florida and found Florida to be a lovely place for tourism as the weather was very favorable with its mild climate, earning its nickname The Sunshine State.
Their state flag was adopted in 1900 when Florida voters ratified a constitutional amendment based on an 1899 joint resolution of the state legislature. It was held to add diagonal red bars to their state flag in the style of the St. Andrew’s Cross (This flag is similar to Alabama’s state flag). Before then, it was only the state seal on a white backdrop. The state seal has a Native American Seminole Woman scattering flowers on a beach along with a steamboat, a sabal tree, and the sun. Surrounding the seal in a gold circle are the words, “State of Florida”, and “In God We Trust”, which is the state’s motto. The seal was revised in 1985 which originally depicted a Western Plains Indian woman, the steamboat was touched up a little bit, and the sabal palm tree was originally a cocoa palm tree.
Florida is home to many agencies like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, also known as NASA. They are known for doing research on space and aeronautics and hold space missions. Although they are based out of Washington DC, the space shuttles for specific missions are launched out of Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the Kennedy Space Center.
As Florida is a popular tourist spot, it houses popular attractions and resorts like Walt Disney World, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Epcot Center and Universal Studios, all located in Orlando (there are similar theme parks in California, but they are called Disneyland and the Universal Studios in California is located in Universal City, CA). The city of Orlando attracts more tourists than any other theme park city in the US.
Food Fact: Florida is the largest Citrus producer in the US!
December 28, 2015
Michigan became the 26th state in the US on January 26, 1837. Michigan is on the border of four of the five great lakes and is divided into the Upper and Lower Peninsulas by the Straits of Mackinac, linking together lakes Huron and and Michigan. They are connected by the Mackinac Bridge, which is one of the world’s longest suspension bridges!
Michigan’s state flag has a dark blue background, featuring an elk and a moose each having one hoof on a blue shield. The shield says “Tuebor” (meaning “I defend) above a picture of a man standing on a peninsula, raising one hand in friendship while his other hand is on a rifle. Above the shield is a bald eagle grasping onto an olive branch and arrows in its talons. A red ribbon above the eagle says E Pluribus Unum (“From one, many”). Below the shield is another motto, “Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice” which means “If you seek amenable (pleasant) peninsula, look about you”. The bald eagle symbolizes the United States while the Elk and Moose represent the state of Michigan. This flag was adopted as the state flag of Michigan in 1911.
While Detroit is a major city in Michigan, many have often thought of it as being the capital of the state. It’s actually Lansing! Detroit is, however, the largest city in Michigan. Detroit is known as Motor City, the automotive capital of the world due to large amounts of cars that are manufactured there. The Big Three car companies, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, are headquartered in Detroit.
December 10, 2015
Halfway through the State Flag series and at the 25th state is Arkansas. Although founded by Spanish settlers (most famously Hernando De Soto), Robert LaSalle claimed the land for France in 1682. Henri DeTonti established the first European settlement in Arkansas in 1686 in the lower Mississippi River Valley, in which the settlement was known as Arkansas Post (Poste aux Arkansas in French). Arkansas was later obtained with the Louisiana Purchase through France in 1803.
The state flag of Arkansas is red with a diamond in the center. The diamond is white and outlined with a blue stripe along with twenty-five white stars, each representing the then-twenty five states in the nation. Written inside the white diamond is the word Arkansas and four separate stars, all blue. The three stars below the state’s name symbolize the three countries who once owned the state, Spain, France, and the US. The star above is their membership in the Confederacy. The reason for the diamond shape is because Arkansas is the only US state in which diamonds have been found. (Mount Ida is the Quartz Crystal capital of the world).
University of Arkansas – NCAA
How did Arkansas get named? The name Arkansas means “South Wind” but it was also a named used to describe a local tribe, Quapaws. Several people had different pronunciations of the name, ranging from Oo-ka-na-sa to Arkensa. It was Arkansas at the time of its admission into the Union.
Presidential Births: William Jefferson Clinton aka Bill Clinton, who was the 42nd President of the United States, was born in Hope, AR on August 19, 1946. Before he was president from 1993-2001, he was previously the governor of Arkansas from 1979-1981 and again from 1983-1992.
November 30, 2015
Missouri became the 24th state in the United States on August 10, 1821. The state (or territory) was first obtained as a part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It was later admitted as a state during the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
The Missouri Compromise was an attempt to preserve the balance of power of Congress between slave and free states. When the Compromise was passed in 1820, Maine became a free state and Missouri became a slave state as a result. Later on, the Compromise was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, ruling that Congress did not have the power to change law regarding slavery in the territories.
Missouri’s state flag was designed by Marie Elizabeth Watkins Oliver in 1913. The flag is rectangular with three horizontal stripes, which are red, white, and blue. They represent the state’s French heritage as they were part of the Louisiana Purchase, bought from France. The stripes also represent valor, justice, purity, and vigilance. In the center is a blue-banded circle surrounded by 24 stars, symbolizing the 24 states in the Union. Inside the circle are two grizzly bears, who represent bravery and strength. The bears are holding a shield which has a gold knight’s helmet sitting atop of it and 24 more stars. Inside the shield is the Missouri Coat of Arms, which is divided by three images. On the right side is a bald eagle grasping olive branches and arrows in its talons (these mean war and peace). On the left side is a grizzly bear on a red background and a crescent moon on a blue background.
Underneath the bears is a white belt which reads, United We Stand, United We Fall. Notice that the grizzly bears holding the shield are standing on top of a ribbon which reads, Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto (Let the Welfare of the People Be The Supreme Law). Finally, underneath the motto is the Roman numeral for 1820, the year which Missouri became a state.
Missouri is also known for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were asked by Thomas Jefferson shortly after the Louisiana Purchase to explore the land beyond the West of the great rock mountains. The two gentlemen started their journey in St. Louis, journeying to the Pacific and returning in 1806. They made diplomatic relations with Native Americans and maps were drawn by Clark, who also named many of the places he drew.
Trivia: Iced Tea was first served at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis!
October 28, 2015
Maine became the 32rd US state on March 15, 1820. Although first visited by Italian explorers John and Sebastian Cabot in 1498, the first English settlers did not arrive until the 1600s. Maine used to be governed by the state of Massachusetts until the Missouri Compromise in 1820, allowing Maine to become a state.
Maine’s state flag was adopted in 1909, 89 years after being admitted to the union. The flag is dark blue with a coat of arms in the center. The coat of arms has two men on opposite sides of aa shield. The men are a farmer and a seaman, who represent the agricultural and maritime industries of Maine. Pictured inside the shield is a moose (the official state animal of Maine because the state has more moose per mile than any other state), a pine tree, grass, a light blue sky, and dark blue water. A yellow star stands atop of the shield which symbolizes the North Star since it was the northernmost state at the time of its entry into the Union, and a red ribbon underneath it reading “Dirigo”, which is Latin for “I direct”. Below the shield and the gentlemen is a blue ribbon reading “Maine”.
Maine is the only state with one syllable in its name and despite being a small state, it has a large amount of coastline (3,478 miles). They also house a large amount of lighthouses in the state (about 67). The capital of Maine was originally Portland but was later changed to Augusta in 1832 but the population of the current capital is still smaller than the population of Portland.
Food Trivia: Maine produces about 90% of the US’ supply of blueberries.
Animals: In addition to the moose being the state’s official animal, the Maine Coon (or Wild Coon) cat is also the state’s official cat!
October 9, 2015
Before Alabama became the 22nd state on December 1, 1819, it had been populated with Native American tribes such as the Alibamu (Alabama), Chocktaw, and Mobile. Spanish explorers were believed to have arrived around 1540. It was later in the 1600s that the English were given the land by King Charles II. In 1702, the first European settlement was established on the Mobile river by the French at Fort Louis de la Mobile. The British later regained control of the land through the Treaty of Paris but were forced to relinquish the land to the US after the American Revolution.
Alabama’s state flag is white with a crimson red St. Andrew’s Cross. This flag’s pattern was based from the Confederate battle flag. The flag can either be square or rectangle but the cross must be exactly six inches wide. This flag was approved in 1895 by the Alabama legislature.
Alabama is where major historical events took place. Alabama is where the Confederacy was founded in February 1861 (Montgomery being the capital), the Confederate flag was designed in this state. This state is also where many Civil Rights actions took place, such as Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery. The event led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Alabama’s name means “Tribal Town” in the language spoken by the Creek Indians. The state is the only state with all the natural resources to make iron and steel. As a result, Alabama is the largest supplier of steel pipe and cast iron products.
Helen Keller is among many of the famous residents of Alabama, born in Tuscombia. She was born both blind and deaf from an illness. Keller was a student of Anne Sullivan, visually impaired herself, who taught her how to communicate with Braille and sign language. Sullivan’s inspiration led to Keller succeeding and graduating from Radcliffe College in 1904. Keller later became a lecturer and an author along with being Sullivan’s companion. Anne Sullivan passed away in 1936 and Helen Keller passed in 1968.