American flag, 34-star
Linen and cotton
Overall: 37 x 34 in. (94 x 86.4 cm) frame: 40 1/2 x 37 1/2 in. (40 1/2 x 37 1/2 in.)
Inscribed in black ink on three white stripes: God bless our native land, May Heaven's protecting hand, Still guard our shore, May peace her power extend, Foe be transformed to friend, And Freedom's rights depend, On war no more. And not this land alone, But be thy mercies known, From shore to shore; Lord make the nations see, That men should brothers be, And form one family, The wide world o'er. ["The Old Flag," 7th and last stanza] O God, our banner save! Make it for ages wave! God save our flag! Preser[v]e its honor pure, Unstained may it endure, And keep our freedom sure! God save our flag!
Linen and cotton hand-stitched 34-star flag with black ink inscriptions on three white stripes; first two stripes contain two verses of the English national anthem, with Chinese characters above; Edward Hopper's 1861 poem, "The Old Flag" inscribed on third white stripe.
This 34-star flag was made in 1861 by an American missionary in China, Samuel Ware Bonney (1815-1864), and inscribed in ink with a stanza of the patriotic poem "The Old Flag" and two stanzas of the English national anthem. According to a letter written by Bonney to the author of the poem, Reverend Edward Hopper (1816-1888), the flag was made aboard the boat that carried him and three British missionaries from Canton through the interior of China to Hankow, a port on the Yangtze River which had just opened to foreign trade and Christian missionaries. The 1200-mile trip took them through a portion of the Chinese Empire never seen by western eyes. After reading Edward Hopper's 1861 poem in the Christian Intelligencer, Bonney wrote to thank him for the moving verse and described the flag that it had inspired: "…with the assistance of a Chinese tailor, I made an American flag, hoisted it at the bow of our boats. It is the first American flag that has been carried through that part of China, and come into Hankow from the south. Have not American missionaries the right to carry their country's flag wherever they go? …It is the symbol of the most Christian nation on the face of the earth, with all due respect to Victoria, 'Defender of the Faith.'" Through the United States minister to Japan, Bonney sent the flag to Hopper in New York, and it was unfurled before the congregation of the Sabbath School of the Allen Street Presbyterian Church on November 18, 1866, where both men had studied. The flag remained in the Tompkins family, relatives of Rev. Hopper, until its donation to the University of Hartford. It was donated by the University to the New-York Historical Society in 2007.
Gift of the University of Hartford
Reverend Samuel W. Bonney; to Reverend Edward Hopper (1816-1888); to Tompkins family, descendants of Rev. Hopper; to University of Hartford; to New-York Historical Society.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.