Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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February 25th
Why the Flag Is Called Old Glory
A sea captain from Salem, Massachusetts, named William Driver first called the U.S. flag “Old Glory.” In 1824, when Driver turned twenty-one, his mother and several young ladies sewed a large American flag for his merchant ship. The captain was delighted with the birthday gift. “I name thee Old Glory!” he declared when he saw it unfolding on the breeze. In the 1820s and ’30s, he flew it on his ship during his sea voyages.

In 1837 Driver left the sea and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, taking his precious flag with him. On Washington’s birthday, the Fourth of July, and St. Patrick’s Day (which happened to be Driver’s birthday), he proudly hung Old Glory from a rope stretched across his street.

With the coming of the Civil War, Driver grew worried that Confederates might seize his flag, so he hid it by sewing it inside a bed comforter. The war divided the Driver family, as it did so many others. Captain Driver was a staunch Union man, but his two sons fought for the Confederacy, and one was killed at the Battle of Perryville, Tennessee.

On February 25, 1862, Nashville became the first Southern state capital to fall to Union troops. When the soldiers entered the city, Driver ripped open the comforter’s seams, carried Old Glory to the capitol building, climbed its tower, and raised his beloved banner. After hearing the story, Americans adopted the nickname Old Glory for the U.S. flag.

Today Driver’s original Old Glory resides at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where it has been carefully preserved.

American History Parade
1836
Inventor Samuel Colt patents his revolver.

1862
Captain William Driver flies Old Glory after Union troops enter Nashville.

1870
Hiram R. Revels, a Mississippi Republican, becomes the first black U.S. senator when he is sworn in to complete the unexpired term of Jefferson Davis, former president of the Confederacy.

1901
J. P. Morgan forms U.S. Steel, the world’s first billion-dollar company.

1933
The USS Ranger, the first U.S. Navy ship designed and built as an aircraft carrier, is launched at Newport News, Virginia.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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