As the Fourth of July approaches, United States embassies around the world are hosting American expats, tourists, and local citizens at parties celebrating American independence. These parties are often the highlight of the embassy season and, depending on how lavish they are and how large the country, can be a major financial headache. American corporations with local outlets often contribute to the costs. These receptions usually feature large cakes baked in the shape of an American flag and flags decorate the walls of reception rooms and flutter from flagstaffs on the building.
Americans abroad were not always so assured in using the symbols of the country. Back in 1847, when Italians were struggling to forge a more democratic government, a group of Americans living in Rome wanted to honor the opening of a new more representative Council by flying an American flag. They soon discovered there was not an American flag to be found anywhere in the city. As Margaret Fuller, wrote, the expats were undaunted and decided to make their own flag. She reported: “they hurried to buy their silk—red, white and blue, and inquired of recent arrivals how many States there are this Winter in the Union, in order to make the proper number of stars” Unfortunately, just as the Americans had managed to produce a suitable flag, an ordinance was passed forbidding the display of any flag except the Roman ensign.
Today it is hard to imagine an American flag as a changeable symbol with a fluctuating number of stars. It has been more than half a century since a new state was admitted to the union. But during the early years of the Republic, America was just establishing its traditions and beginning to take its place in the world. Margaret Fuller, a journalist, writer, and feminist, was one of the people who helped to make the United States aware of its importance as a symbol of freedom and democracy. Two years after the incident of the flag-making, Margaret was in Rome and watched the invasion of the French army on July 4, 1849. On the very anniversary of the day America gained its freedom, the Romans lost theirs. It would be many years before Italy would become a free and united country.
Margaret Fuller was a brilliant and influential woman. She changed the way Americans view the world. As a journalist and activist, she demanded both votes and jobs for women.
During this month when we celebrate America’s independence and the men and women who built the country, you can get a free ebook copy of my biography of this remarkable woman, Margaret Fuller: an Uncommon Woman. Just go to www.smashwords.com , search for the title and use the code SFREE to get your copy.
7 thoughts on “Margaret Fuller and the Flag”
Just getting around to reading this post — fascinating! Thanks so much for your continuing stories, Adele…
Thanks, Nancy! I’m glad you enjoy them. It’s fun finding them. There are so many good stories in our history.
Wow, thank you, Adele. That’s great. Having just become an American citizen, the astounding documents on which this country was built reaffirm my wavering belief in the government.
All the best, Melissa
Congratulations on your citizenship, Melissa! I hope you celebrated with a red-white-and blue frosted cake. It’s certainly nice when we can find some things to celebrate about government and the world these days.
I remember going io sch a reception at an Embassy Julym4th is a day to celebate.
Happy 4th and hope its cooler than Texas!
Thanks, Barbara. It certainly is cooler here–we’ll probably not even reach 70 today. I just hope the fog rolls off before the fireworks begin tonight.
Happy Fourth of July!
I love this post! And thanks for alerting us to the opportunity to get the Margaret Fuller biography FREE! I already own my own print copy but I’ll be alerting my friends!!!