American Flag, 1865

Today marks the 113th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States.  To celebrate the occasion we thought we would share a piece of Lincoln memorabilia from the ATHM collection: an American flag presented to President Lincoln just three days prior to his assassination in 1865.

American Flag, 1865, Middlesex Company


This Flag was designed and created by Civil War Union General Benjamin Franklin Butler, part owner of the Middlesex Company in Lowell. It was presented to Lincoln for approval on April 11, 1865, three days before to the President was assassinated. Created in response to a law enacted on March 3 of the same year, specifying that all flags should be made from fabrics of American manufacturers, it was the first to be assembled entirely from American-made fabrics.

Butler’s flag features red, white, and blue worsted bunting and 37 hand-appliquéd white-cotton stars. The blue field and red and white stripes are of worsted bunting.  The stars are arranged in a diamond shape with vertical rows on either side.  Even though there were only 36 states in 1865, a 37th star was included in anticipation of Nebraska’s admission into the union.  The flag was hung from a linen heading with brass grommets.

General Butler went on to found the United States Bunting Company in December of 1865.  His company furnished flags for government use, however, they used a more conventional arrangement of stars.  The flag was later used to welcome General Ulysses S. Grant upon his visit to Brighton, England in 1877 and was flown at half-mast when President James Garfield was shot.

Contributed by Jane Ward, Assistant Librarian

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