The Anniversary of Flag Day in Hartford, Connecticut

Floor Speech

By:  John Larson
Date: June 12, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate Flag Day, a national celebration of our country and its freedoms, which was originally conceived in Hartford, Connecticut.

The concept for a ``Flag Day'', a commemoration of the 1777 establishment of our national flag, originated in Hartford shortly after the start of the Civil War when Hartford resident Jonathan Morris imagined Flag Day as an opportunity to promote the idea of a strong union in the face of the growing conflict. He felt that engendering pride in our most potent and patriotic symbol of unity might serve as a reminder of the sacrifices borne by prior Americans to establish the country, and restore a sense of respect for the national government in Washington.

Mr. Morris related his idea to Charles Dudley Warner, editor of the Hartford Evening Press, who was impressed by the idea and wrote an editorial calling for two new national holidays, Flag Day and Constitution Day. On June 14th, 1861, with the country two months into the Civil War and with troops mustering in downtown Hartford, residents of Connecticut followed his lead and organized the first celebration to honor our flag, and all that it stood for.

After the success of the 1861 celebrations in Hartford, Jonathan Morris asked Congressman Dwight Loomis, representing the First District of Connecticut in the U.S. House of Representatives, to introduce a resolution recommending that the people of the United States observe June 14th and September 17th as national holidays, honoring the American Flag and the Constitution. Unfortunately, the Congressional Resolution was laid on the table and never came up again.

However, presumably also at the request of Mr. Morris, Connecticut State Senator Henry Welch introduced an identical Resolution in the General Assembly, which passed the Senate on June 6, 1862, and passed the House on June 17, 1862, recommending that the citizens of Connecticut observe June 14th and September 17th as Flag Day and Constitution Day, making Connecticut the first State to do so.

Whether it was helping to lay the foundation for the United States Constitution, or being the home to distinguished citizens such as Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Samuel Colt, Hartford's history has forever been interwoven with that of our great country. Given that the city of Hartford has played such a historic role in shaping the United States, it is no surprise that the idea of Flag Day originated there.

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