Flag Day Speech
[Editor’s note: The following speech was delivered by Thomas Allen, President of the First Flag Chapter of the Children of the Confederacy, March 1996, at the First Flag Day Ceremony in Louisburg, N.C.]
In March 1861 this flag flew over the Franklin County courthouse square where we now stand. It flew two months before North Carolina seceded. The monument in front of the courthouse honors this event.
Major Smith was an ardent secessionist. He realized that armed conflict was inevitable. Knowing the value of a flag as a symbol, he set about designing one.
He designed the flag upon the idea of the trinity. The three bars represented church, state, and press. The church stood for Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The state stood for legislative, judicial, and executive. The press stood for speech, liberty of conscience, and the right to be heard. The three colors of the flag were white, blue, and red. White represented purity; blue, constancy; red, defiance.
Each state of the Confederacy was represented by a star. The original flag contained seven stars. When Smith designed the flag there were only seven states in the Confederacy: South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.
Major Smith brought Miss Murphy material to make a model flag. She did as directed. The model measured 12 by 15 inches. After she had made the model flag, Major Smith sent it to Congress in Montgomery, Alabama. On [March 4, 1861] Congress adopted Smith’s design as the official flag of the Confederacy. Major Smith’s flag became known as the Stars and Bars.
When he learned that his design was accepted as the flag of the Confederate States of America, he brought material to Miss Murphy and had her make a large flag. This flag was identical to his model. This flag was made of dress material. It measured 9 by 12 feet.
Monday, March 18, 1861, Major Smith raised this flag on this square. This was the first Confederate flag ever displayed in this part of North Carolina. It flew two months before North Carolina seceded.
The ladies of Louisburg made a copy of Smith’s flag and presented it to the Franklin Rifles. This flag was made of silk and had a heavy silver fringe. On one side of its blue field was North Carolina’s coat of arms. On the other side was a circle of stars and an inscription. The inscription read, “Our lives to liberty. Our souls to God. Franklin Rifles. Presented by the Ladies of Louisburg, N. C. April 27th, 1861.” The Franklin Rifles carried this flag until the Confederate Battle Flag was adopted.
In March 1961 Franklin County turned out to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Major Smith’s flag. This was perhaps the largest celebration ever held in Franklin County. The Franklin County Board of Commissioners, the local Jaycees, and other civic groups actively participated in the celebration. There was a large parade. Speeches were made in front of this courthouse. Replicas of the Stars and Bars flew in front of all businesses and many private homes. The Board of Commissioners decreed that the flag should fly over the courthouse for all to see.
The flag flew over the courthouse for a year or two. Then It was taken down, never to fly again except a few minutes over the past several Marches.
Franklin County should be proud of the flag that Major Smith designed. The Stars and Bars should fly over this courthouse every day — not just a few minutes in March. Why is it not flying every day? The time has come to bring the flag out of the closet. The time has come for the flag to be returned to its rightful spot in front of this courthouse.
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