This flag, featuring the Pennsylvania State Coat of Arms, was purportedly flying from the platform on which President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863. The consecration of Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg not only recognized the significance of the Battle of Gettysburg, but also preserved land that honors the fallen soldiers. The early safeguarding of this ground led to efforts that would shield large portions of the battlefield from development, paving the way for the creation of the Gettysburg National Military Park. More than 3 million people visit the park each year.
From July 1 through July 3, 1863, approximately 50,000 Confederate and Union soldiers gave their lives during the Battle of Gettysburg to defend their respective causes. Viewed as the turning point of the American Civil War, this historic battle considerably diminished the Confederate army and effectively closed off its access to the northeastern United States for the remainder of the conflict. Roughly 620,000 soldiers, or 2 percent of the nation’s population, lost their lives during the Civil War.
The state’s coat of arms was created in 1778, though the Pennsylvania state flag was not officially adopted until 1907. The various images on the flag symbolize Pennsylvania’s strengths, including the commonwealth’s agricultural, commercial and cultural prowess, as well as its wealth of natural resources. This flag is hand-painted on silk with gold leaf and depicts the state’s coat of arms enclosed in a ring of stars. The flag is signed by its maker, William G. Mintzer, a manufacturer of military goods in Philadelphia who was in business from 1839 until his death in 1869. This week’s Pennsylvania Treasure was nominated by CAP Curator Emily Church and is featured in the Pennsylvania Icons exhibit
About Pennsylvania Icons:
Featuring a diverse array of artifacts from the collections of the State Museum of Pennsylvania and other Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission historic sites and museums, Pennsylvania Icons tells the story of our commonwealth, its people and the role they played in shaping the nation. The exhibit features historic artifacts ranging from a 1654 map of the Philadelphia region to pieces of the Walnut Street bridge in Harrisburg. Pennsylvania Icons opens to the public on Sunday, November 8, 2015.
About Pennsylvania Treasures:
In early 2012, The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission launched the Collections Advancement Project (CAP), a program to inventory and catalog our vast and significant holdings of art and artifacts. These efforts are resulting in better stewardship of our collections which represent Pennsylvania arts, culture, history, sciences, business and agriculture. As a component of the project, CAP curators have researched rarely exhibited artifacts and works of art. We are sharing these Pennsylvania Treasures with the public through weekly updates.