Stars and Stripes
The US flag is made up of two distinct elements: Stars and Stripes. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed its Flag Resolution which described the flag only in general terms. "Resolved that the flag of the United States be 13 stripes alternate red and white, that the union be 13 stars white in a blue field representing a new constellation." Nothing in the resolution dictated how the stars and stripes were to be arranged, resulting in some interesting designs (such as the Bennington flag, the Guilford Flag, and this unique "betsy-ross-like" design). Up until the 1920's, star arrangement was a varied and creative endeavor, but the most interesting one is the Whipple Flag. Designed in 1912 by Wayne Whipple, and approved by President W.H. Taft, the Whipple was striking in design and symbolism. "Its 48 stars are arranged in a central six-pointed "Great Star" to symbolize the 13 original states similar to both the Great Seal and the 'Great Star' patterns of many early flags. The ring of stars around the "Great Star" represents the states admitted to the Union up to the time of the First Centennial exposition of 1876. An outer ring -- with space for future additions -- symbolizes the states admitted since the Centennial." The Whipple design fell out of popularity quickly, however. In 1923 the Flag Code was developed, codifying the rules for American flags. The Code became federal law in 1942, locking down the rectangular layout of the star field. We've held steady at 50 stars, and while the United States Army Institute of Heraldry has plans for flags with up to 56 stars (boring 51 star, alternate 51 star), the Whipple could easily expand to 65 or more.