Search the Site

Why All the Stars on a U.S. Flag?

Photo: John Foxx

Ever wondered about the origins of the American flag? Why all the stars? A new paper (gated) by Eran Shalev offers some interesting insights. “Instead of the king as Sun around which the political realm revolves and which holds the nation in equilibrium, in the 1770s an alternative and revolutionary political cosmology emerged and was enshrined in the new nation’s symbols: a diffuse constellation of uniform floating stars devoid of a solar center that embodied egalitarian and republican values,” writes Shalev. “The American Revolution would thus give rise to new modes of understanding and communicating the political order: no kingly star overshadowed and dominated others; together they constituted a novel political system in which a plurality of individual stars held together, comprising a unity that was more perfect than its discrete parts.”