National Color — "Jonathan Fowle" flag

By unknown maker, 1781

Muslin, approx. 6 x 9 ft.

Given by George Fowle, grandson of Jonathan Fowle, 1906.

This thirteen-star flag was fabricated in 1781 for Jonathan Fowle, of Jamaica Plain, and is the oldest flag in the Massachusetts collection. It was made just after Congress adopted the "stars and stripes" design for the national banner.

The pattern for the stars in the canton, however, would not be standardized for many years. An orderly pattern of stars was sewn on the reverse whereas on the front they appear much smaller and irregular. When the flag was conserved in the 1920s the more handsome side was preserved, which is why it appears to be displayed "backwards," with the stars in the upper right. Upon its donation to the Commonwealth in 1906, Fowle's grandson George stated that this flag was flown at Fort Independence (Castle William) in Boston Harbor during the time his father was posted there as a member of the Boston Rangers.

flag of National Color — "Jonathan Fowle" flag