American Flag Raised Over Buddhist Temple in Japan on July 4, 1872

Researched by James R. Heintze. All Rights Reserved.

Since 1776, American flags have flown all over the world on July 4th, in virtually all countries. They have been carried around the globe on ships, tested the winds of foreign ports and raised in unusual settings.

The tale of "Old Glory" and her world-wide journey is perhaps the best known. It was Captain William Driver who received the notorious flag from his mother and the girls of Salem, Mass., on the occasion of the start of his ninth voyage around the world. He called the banner "Old Glory," her 24 white stars and 13 red & white stripes, a beacon shining forth, a memory of home and hearth. She went around the world twice, served in the Civil War, and flew over a July 4th, 1874, celebration in Salmon River, Nevada. She finally came to rest in 1922 in Washington, D.C.

But there is another American flag that went around the world--a flag little known and certainly not remembered today--that also deserves attention. Like "Old Glory," she too was given a name: "Flower Flag" they called her. She too flew gracefully, proudly displaying her colors.

She was carried aboard the splendid steamer Great Republic out of San Francisco in 1871 and was first raised as the ship entered the Japanese Bay of Yokohama. On entering the port German, Italian, English, Dutch, and French man-of-war vessels dipped their colors, providing a friendly greeting to the American steamer and its flag. The flag was later removed from the vessel and was raised over a Buddhist temple on July 4, 1872. The temple was situated some 100 miles "in the interior of Japan." For a time the flag also flew over a castle at Saidzuoka and the folk in the region admired her "both for its size and beauty. They gave it the name of 'Flower Flag' and were very inquisitive to know what the stars upon it signified, saying that the rising sun of the Japanese standard floated very fittingly with the brilliant stars of the American."

The flag also flew for a time in Tokyo and was later taken aboard an American ship destined for the South China Sea and ultimately bound for the Cape of Good Hope. The flag was later brought back to American soil and carried to Albany, N.Y. On the occasion of the 1876 Centennial Fourth of July, she proudly flew in front of Dr. Clark's house there, at No. 65 North Pearl Street, near the Post Office. (Source: New York Times, 4 July 1876, 3.)

This page last updated May 20, 2008.

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