It is easy to forget that America began as a handful of English Colonies. It is easier to forget that the Colonists would have had in their minds the English Civil War. Hence when the English planted their flags in these shores, they were English. Their flag evolved with England’s, and as England became Britain, so did our flag. The Red Flag of New England was replaced with Queen Anne’s Flag after the Union with Scotland around 1707 when it was determined that the English navy required a Standard recognizable from land and sea. This was sometimes called the Meteor Flag on account of the fear the Red Ensign or Red Duster would strike in the heart of Britain’s enemies.
Now the Colonists remained united with their Motherland in a number of common struggles, they believed. These were English patriots, jealous of their rights safeguarded by the Magna Carta and the English Constitution which informs the English one. Much of the blood spilt in fighting the French and Indians who withstood the Manifest Destiny of the Colonies was English. It was the British Army which often acted as a constabulary and a bulwark against foreign aggression. Questions of Loyalty and Independence were not easily reconciled, and many wanted it both ways – even Washington had hoped for reconciliation, Washington who retained the British standard until the Flag Resolution of 77 and oversaw the first National flag as one that was still British. Thomas Paine, who once stood under the Taunton flag in his pursuit of justice, though a brilliant rhetorician, was in actual fact a minority. There was nothing easy about the Revolution – it was a sober prophecy of a nation’s capacity to be torn apart, a grim reality many Founders acknowledged as prescient, who viewed Revolution not as desirable but inevitable. One cannot appreciate the gravity of the American Revolution without understanding this, which is why most of the early flags of the Revolution were either defaced British Ensigns, or even earlier artefacts of English Identity such as the Bunker Hill banner which could easily be seen as the will of the American-English against British Imperialism and an active celebration of their humbler English roots which seeking clear moral conscience, brought them to America in the first place.
The Taunton Flag, like so many others, has the benefit of being among the last. Being recorded by the now elusive Boston Evening Post Article as being a colonial flag bearing the inscription “Liberty and Union,” it betrayed the desires of many Colonists and even Founding Fathers who wished to keep blood ties alive while reconciling a growingly irreconcilable political rift identified by Thomas Paine. This banner was flown in Taunton, Massachusetts, where revolutionary fervor became well pronounced. It called for a recognition of the English Rights of Americans, in the form of Liberty, while acknowledging the Union with their kinfolk across the sea many still felt. But the meaning was a double entendre which also called for the Union of the Colonies with one another, in their pursuit of Liberty.
Today, one might infer a meaning not too terribly unlike that fathomed by our fathers, in that history often changes little between generations. Today America is being cannibalized for parts, one might say taxed without representation, and increasingly beleaguered by irreconcilable political opinions which some believe may force many to take sides. Indeed, the entire English-speaking world seems to be under siege as forces who abhor liberty, as well as union, seem bent on controlling every aspect of every life within a dominion of dubious consent. When so much is being actively forgotten, and willfully ignored, Liberty and Union become worthy slogans, for without steadfastness and resolve we should find ourselves with neither – as our Fathers predicted we might, in the end.
- Hook Backing
- Release: 12/1/2022